Dr Yasmina Okan

Dr Yasmina Okan


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. 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.


  • Cancer Research UK Fellow
  • Associate Professor in Behavioral Decision Making
  • President, Society for the Advancement of Judgment and Decision Making Studies (SEJyD)

Research interests

In order to make informed decisions people need to understand information about risks and benefits 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.

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 (e.g., Okan et al. 2016, 2018a, 2018b). My colleagues and I have also developed a short scale to assess individual differences in graph literacy (SGL scale; Okan et al., 2019). The scale items can be accessed here. My CRUK-funded work has so far 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 project 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 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.


  • 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
  • University of Leeds Teaching and Research Award. Higher Education Academy (HEA), 2015

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, Psychonomic Society (US)
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy (UK)
  • President, Society for the Advancement of Judgment and Decision Making Studies (SEJyD)

Student education

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

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Decision Research