Centre for Decision Research Seminar with Professor Michael Siegrist, ETH Zurich

13:30 - 14:30
Professor Michael Siegrist
Baines Wing SR (4.12), University of Leeds
Who can attend:
This event is open to University of Leeds staff, students, alumni and external guests who have an interest in the topic.

'Symbolic Information Causes Biased Decisions'

As part of the Centre for Decision Research's seminar series, Professor Michael Siegrist will be discussing symbolic information causing biased decisions.

He will be discussing the below:

"In assessing the outcomes of decisions, people often rely on the symbolic information while neglecting other crucial information. People may be especially prone to rely on this information on topics that are subject to social norms, such as environmentally friendly behavior, environmental risks or risks for humans. In one experiment, participants were presented with two energy consumer descriptions. One contained a positive symbolic significant attribute (e.g., driving a Toyota Prius) and a negative symbolic neutral attribute (e.g., covering 28,700 km); for the other one, the reverse was true (e.g., driving an SUV and covering 11,400 km). As expected, participants were influenced by the symbolic information and this resulted in biased decisions. In another set of experiments, we could show that negative outcomes are more negatively perceived if caused by humans compared with nature. Perceiving gene technology as unnatural may be one reason why the risks and the benefits associated with this technology is perceived differently compared with the risks and the benefits associated with conventional breeding technology. The results of our experiments demonstrate that symbolic information may cause biased decisions. These biased decisions have been observed in different contexts, and they may result in non-optimal decisions."

This event is hosted by the Centre for Decision ResearchPriestley International Centre for Climate, the Sustainability Research Institute, and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy

For further information please contact research.LUBS@leeds.ac.uk

About the speaker

Professor Michael Siegrist

Michael Siegrist is a Professor for Consumer Behavior at the Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He studied psychology, economics and mass communication at the University of Zurich. He worked as a research assistant at the Psychology Department and in 1994 he wrote his dissertation at the University of Zurich.

During 1997-1998 he worked as a Project Manager at the Swiss Association of Milk Producers, Department of Marketing Research. During 1998-2000 he was a visiting researcher at Western Washington University, WA, USA (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation). He returned back to the University of Zurich, and worked as a senior researcher. In 2001 he completed his ‘Habilitation’ at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zurich.Professor Siegrist has published numerous articles about risk perception, trust, risk communication and food choice behavior.

His research focuses, at the moment, on acceptance of new technologies, and consumer behavior in the food domain. He is an Area Editor of the Journal Risk Analysis and an executive editor of Appetite. 

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