Cancer Research UK Fellow
Associate Professor in Behavioural Decision Making, Management Division

0113 343 2622
Staff, Academic, Research Centres, Centre for Decision Research (CDR), Divisions, Management
1.17 Charles Thackrah
Curriculum Vitae:
Yasmina Okan CV
Psychology of judgment and decision making, health risk perception and communication


PhD Experimental Psychology, University of Granada (Spain), 2013

MSc Cognitive and Decision Sciences, University College London (United Kingdom), 2008

BSc Psychology, Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), 2006

Additional academic qualifications

University of Leeds Teaching and Research Award (with Distinction). Higher Education Academy (HEA) nationally accredited award mapped against UK Professional Standards Framework, 2015

Additional academic roles and Honours

Fellow, Psychonomic Society (US)

Fellow, Higher Education Academy (UK)

President, Society for the Advancement of Judgment and Decision Making Studies (SEJyD).


Dr. Yasmina Okan is a Cancer Research UK Fellow and Associate Professor in Behavioral Decision Making at the Centre for Decision Research. She holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Granada (Spain). She has been a Visiting Researcher at different international institutions, including the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Germany) and the Michigan Technological University (US).

Yasmina’s research focuses on the psychology of judgment and decision making, with an emphasis on health risk perception and communication. Her work is currently supported by Cancer Research UK, the largest independent funder of cancer research in Europe. The goal of her CRUK-funded project is to improve public communications about cervical cancer screening. She has also worked on multiple projects examining how to improve communications about different health risks using simple graphs, and how to measure individual differences in graph literacy. Previous and ongoing projects have been supported by grants from the US Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, the Worldwide Universities Network, and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture. Her research has been published in leading academic journals including Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Medical Decision Making, Risk Analysis, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, and Vaccine. She also been the recipient of awards including the Jane Beattie Memorial Travel Scholarship from the US Society for Judgment and Decision Making. Her research interests also include moral judgment and decision making, and climate risk perception and communication.

Yasmina has also received awards in recognition of excellence in teaching, including the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2015) and the Management Division Teaching Award (2016) from Leeds University Business School. She is a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy, in recognition of attainment against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and learning support in higher education.



In order to make informed decisions people need to understand information about risks, benefits, and harms of different options. Inadequately designed risk communications may not only be unhelpful, but can also lead to important errors in comprehension and mislead decision makers. My research has focused on examining the use and misuse of different formats to communicate risks (e.g., graphical displays), and the effect of such formats on people’s judgments and decisions. Ultimately, I hope to achieve a comprehensive, theoretically-grounded, understanding of how to improve the design of risk communications among individuals with varying levels of graph literacy and numeracy.

Examples of my work include studies examining the effectiveness of graphical displays to reduce common judgment biases (Okan et al., 2012, 2015) and the impact of different graphical design features on people’s understanding of health risks and associated decisions (Okan et al. 2016, 2018a, 2018b, under review). My colleagues and I have also developed a short scale to assess individual differences in graph literacy (SGL scale; Okan et al., in press). The scale items can be accessed here.

My CRUK-funded work has examined how cervical cancer screening information is communicated in UK websites, how women interpret the NHS cervical screening leaflet sent to women across England, and what is the prevalence of misunderstandings. I have shared preliminary findings with Public Health England to inform the design of new versions of the leaflet. Planned work will examine how to improve communications about benefits and risks of cervical screening using simple graphs. In ongoing projects I am investigating how to improve the design of graphical health risk communications in a range of different domains.  

In additional projects I have also examined contextual and emotional factors affecting people’s moral judgments and decisions, including the temporal order in which different moral dilemmas are evaluated (Wiegmann et al., 2012), the effect of different types of emotions (De la Viña et al., 2015), and age-differences in moral judgement (McNair et al., 2018). I am also interested in factors shaping public perceptions of climate change risks.

My collaborators include colleagues across the University of Leeds, as well as international institutions such as the Harding Centre for Risk Literacy (Germany), the Santa Fe Institute (US), Wake Forest University (US), the Washington School of Medicine (US), the Andalusian School of Public Health (Spain), and the University of Oklahoma (US), among others.

I welcome contact from prospective PhD candidates interested in any of the above research topics.


Module leadership

  • Effective Decision Making; Leeds University Business School: MSc course (2014 – 2017).
  • How Managers Make Decisions; Leeds University Business School: 2nd year undergraduate course (2014 – 2016).
  • Current Issues in Decision Making; Leeds University Business School: 3rd year undergraduate course (2014 – 2016)- Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence 2015, Management Division Teaching Award 2016.

Other lecturing

  • Cancer and Continuing Care (Guest Lecturer); Leeds School of Medicine: MBChB year 4 (2018)
  • Management Decision Making (Team Member); Leeds University Business School: FT MBA Management Decision Making (2015 – 2017)
  • Business Analytics and Decision Making (Team Member); Leeds University Business School: FT MBA Management Decision Making (2014 – 2015)
  • Management Decision Making (Team Member); Leeds University Business School: 3rd year undergraduate course (2014 – 2016)
  • Introduction to Psychology (Teaching Assistant); University of Granada (Spain): 1st year undergraduate course (2011)

Dissertation supervision


Dr. Okan’s publications can be downloaded from ResearchGate or requested via email.

Papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals

  1. Okan, Y., Janssen, E., Galesic, M. & Waters, E. (in press). Using the Short Graph Literacy scale to predict precursors of health behavior change. Medical Decision Making
  2. McNair, S., Okan, Y., & Hadjichristidis, K., & Bruine de Bruin, W. (2019). Age differences in moral judgment: Older adults are more deontological than younger adults. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 32, 47–60.
  3. Okan, Y., Garcia-Retamero, R., Cokely, E. T., & Maldonado, A. (2018). Biasing and debiasing health decisions with bar graphs: Costs and benefits of graph literacy. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
  4. Okan Y., Stone, E., & Bruine de Bruin, W. (2018). Designing graphs that promote both risk understanding and behavior change. Risk Analysis, 38, 929–946.
  5. Spears, D., Fernández- Linsenbarth, I., Okan, Y., Ruz, M., & González, F. (2018). Disfluent fonts lead to more utilitarian decisions in moral dilemmas. Psicológica, 39, 41-63.
  6. Okan, Y., Galesic, M., & Garcia-Retamero, R. (2016). How people with low and high graph literacy process health graphs: Evidence from eye-tracking. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 29, 271–294.
  7. De la Viña, L., Garcia-Burgos, D., Okan, Y., Cándido, A., & González, F. (2015). Disentangling the effect of valence and arousal on judgments concerning moral transgressions. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 18, 1–9.
  8. Okan, Y., Garcia-Retamero, R., Cokely, E. T., & Maldonado, A. (2015). Improving risk understanding across ability levels: Encouraging active processing with dynamic icon arrays. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 21, 178—194.
  9. Muñoz, R., Okan, Y., & Garcia-Retamero, R. (2015). Numeracy and health: A critical review. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 47, 111–123.
  10. Garcia-Retamero, R., Okan, Y., & Maldonado, A. (2015). The impact of depression on self-other discrepancies in decision making. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 28, 89–100.
  11. Bodemer, N., Müller, S. M., Okan, Y., Garcia-Retamero, R., & Neumeyer-Gromen, A. (2012). Do the media provide transparent health information? A cross-cultural comparison of public information about the HPV Vaccine. Vaccine, 30, 3747–3756.
  12. Garcia-Retamero, R., Okan, Y., & Cokely, E. T. (2012). Using visual aids to improve communication of risks about health: A Review. The Scientific World Journal, Article ID 562637.
  13. Okan, Y., Garcia-Retamero, R., Cokely, E. T., & Maldonado, A. (2012). Individual differences in graph literacy: Overcoming denominator neglect in risk comprehension. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 25, 390–401.
  14. Okan, Y., Garcia-Retamero, R., Galesic, M., & Cokely, E. T. (2012). When higher bars are not larger quantities: On individual differences in the use of spatial-to-conceptual mappings in graph comprehension. Spatial Cognition and Computation, 12, 195–218.  
  15. Wiegmann, A., Okan, Y., & Nagel, J. (2012). Order effects in moral judgment. Philosophical Psychology, 25, 813–836.
  16. Okan, Y., Müller, S. M., & Garcia-Retamero, R. (2010). Relación entre pensamiento y lenguaje: Cómo el género gramatical afecta a la representación semánticas de los objetos (Relations between thought and language: How grammatical gender affects semantical representations of objects). Boletín de AELFA, 10, 52–55.

Papers submitted to peer-reviewed academic journals

  1. Okan, Y., Stone, E., Parillo, J., Bruine de Bruin, W. & Parker, A. The impact of different probability sizes and risk reductions on graphical display effects. Submitted to Risk Analysis
  2. Okan, Y., Smith, S.G., & Bruine de Bruin, W. How is cervical screening information communicated in UK websites? Submitted to Patient Education and Counselling
  3. Petrova, D. Salamanca-Fernández, E., Okan, Y., Redondo Sánchez, D., Luque Fernández, MA., Chang-Chan, Y,Rodríguez Barranco, M., Sánchez Pérez, M. Influence of symptom recognition and beliefs about cancer on delay in symptom consultation: A meta-analysis across diverse cancer sites. Submitted to Health Psychology Review
  4. Spears, D., Okan, Y., Ruz, M., & González, F. Can induced reflection affect moral decision making? Revise & resubmit in Philosophical Psychology

Chapters in edited books

  1. Maldonado, A., Candido, A., Perales, J. C., Garcia-Retamero, R., Megias, A., Okan, Y., & Catena, A., (2016). Aprendizaje y neurociencia cognitiva (Learning and cognitive neuroscience). In: M. T. Bajo, L. J. Fuentes, J. Lupiañez, & M.R. Rueda (Eds.), Mente y cerebro: De la psicología experimental a la neurociencia cognitiva (Mind and brain: From experimental psychology to cognitive neuroscience) (pp. 263–298). Madrid: Alianza Editorial: ISBN: 978-84-9104-233-4
  2. Müller, S., Bodemer, N., Okan, Y., Garcia-Retamero, R., & Neumeyer-Gromen, A. (2013). Transparent health information in the media. In Garcia-Retamero, R., & Galesic, M. (Eds.), Transparent Communication of Health Risks: Overcoming Cultural Differences (pp. 195–213). Hauppauge, New York: Springer.
  3. Garcia-Retamero, R., & Okan, Y. (2011). Motivating employees in a rapidly changing health care system. In A. M. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in Psychology Research, Volume 74 (pp. 187–195). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
  4. Garcia-Retamero R., & Okan, Y. (2010). Trust in health care: conceptual issues and empirical research. In R. E. Murphy (Ed.), Health Psychology (pp. 137–144). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Full papers published in peer-reviewed conference proceedings

  1. Spears, D. Okan, Y., Cándido, A., & González, F. (2014). Cognitive reflection and callous affect: Two independent factors related to utilitarian decisions on moral dilemmas. VIII Symposium of the Spanish Society of Motivation and Emotion, 128–134.
  2. Woller-Carter, M., Okan, Y., Cokely, E. T., & Garcia-Retamero, R. (2012). Communicating and distorting risks with graphs: An eye-tracking study. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting September 2012, 56, 1723–1727.
  3. Wiegmann, A. & Okan, Y. (2012). Order effects in moral judgment. Searching for an explanation. Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1143–1148). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  4. Wiegmann, A., Okan, Y., Nagel, J., & Mangold, S. (2010). Order effects in moral judgment. Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2111–2116). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

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