Research

I have research interests in more areas than I probably should, partly stemming from my background as one of the earlier explorers of web-based research methodologies. This experience has meant I have collaborated with many individuals and organisations to collect web-based data to help with many different types of project. These are as diverse as longitudinal health projects with the UK Women's Cohort Study, mental rotation with the BBC, personality and art preference, again with the BBC, and access to civil justice, with UCL Faculty of Laws.

My own areas of research are related to judgement and decision making (or behavioural science, behavioural economics, economic psychology, depending on your terminological preference). I list my main areas of interest below:

The Psychology of Time

I devised a third-year undergraduate module on the psychology of time, which covers many diverse aspects of time in the brain, including time perception, biological rhythms, time and causality judgements, mental time travel, and intertemporal choice.

This general interest arose from my own research on delay discounting, the extent to which intervening delay makes an option less attractive (would you rather have £45 in 3 days or £70 in 3 months?), and the psychological processes underlying time preferences. At the moment I am examining the relationship between episodic future thinking and time-related decision making, as well as using eye-tracking to examine the processes underlying comparison of delayed options.

Judgemental Forecasting

Individuals' or businesses' ability to extrapolate trends into the future: weather, sales figures, or markets - is limited, and appears to be affected by several systematic biases. I investigate how people extrapolate trends on time series data, including the effects of recently experienced trends and the way in which time series are presented. I am currently looking at the best graph formats for minimising forecasting biases.

Randomness

The idea of randomness seems simple, but people are poor at differentiating between random and non-random sequences, and show systematic biases such as the gambler’s fallacy and the hot-hand fallacy. I have been looking at how people perceive and produce random sequences, and the heuristics they use to judge how likely a sequence is to occur through a random process (for example, most people think that repeatedly tossing a fair coin (Heads or Tails), the sequence H H T H T is more likely to come up that H H H H H). I am also interested in the visual nature of attempts to be random, and am currently using lottery data and controlled experiments to show the ways in which attempts to choose randomly are imperfect.

Psychology and Public Policy

I have done academic and commercial research on the psychology of taxation, how people represent taxes, and how framing affects people's preference for their preferred progressiveness of a tax system. More generally, I am interested in the ways in which policy issues are represented among the population, and how those representations affect acceptance of policy decisions.