Allen L. Edwards Psychology Lecture Series

Join us for the ninth annual Allen L. Edwards Psychology Lecture Series: The Science of Decision Making. This popular series brings notable psychologists to the University of Washington to co-present with faculty from the UW Department of Psychology. Together they will reveal how the brain and an individual’s expectations bias the decisions that we make in uncertain conditions.

This free, public series is made possible by a generous bequest from Professor Allen L. Edwards, with the support of a bequest from Professor Roger B. Loucks.

Lectures by all six speakers were recorded by UWTV and are now available for viewing.

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014
The Neuroscience of Good Decision Making

Randall O’Reilly, Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder
Chantel Prat, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

Decision making is pervasive in everyday life, and individuals vary widely in their ability to use the information available to them to make good decisions. Drs. Randall O'Reilly and Chantel Prat will discuss such individual differences in decision making, with an emphasis on how various brain regions contribute to good decision making.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014
How the Brain Makes Decisions under Uncertainty
Jeansok Kim, Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology, University of Washington
John O’Doherty, Ph.D – Professor of Psychology, California Institute of Technology

In order to make decisions about what action to take in uncertain situations the brain needs to be able to make estimates about the future consequences of taking particular actions, and work out which is the best course of action to take in any given situation. Drs. Kim and O’Doherty will discuss how the rodent and human brains are capable of working out the “risk” and “value” of possible outcomes over the course of trial-and-error experience, and how that information subsequently gets used at the point of decision making. Uncovering how it is that the brain makes decisions is important not only for gaining a better appreciation of what makes us tick as human beings, but also can ultimately help us to better understand what happens when people make poor decisions, such as when suffering from psychiatric illness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Communicating, Understanding and Using Uncertain Information in Everyday Decisions
David Budescu, Ph.D. – Anne Anastasi Professor of Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology, Fordham University
Susan Joslyn, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

Each of us makes important decisions involving uncertainty in domains in which we are not experts, such as retirement planning, medical treatment, precautions against severe weather and climate change. We often have access to information about the relevant uncertainty that in some cases is provided by experts. These lectures will describe research that explores what people understand about uncertainty in decision making, how effectively they incorporate it into the decision process and implications for how best to communicate uncertainty information to non-expert decision makers.


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