UEL College Applied Health & Communities Seminar Series: 12th december 2018

Date:   12th December 2018

Time:   12:00 – 1:00 pm       

Room: University House, room 2.01

Deal or No Deal, Terrorism, Brexit, Donald Trump and Bicycle Accidents: Effects of emotions on decisions (and vice-versa)

Professor Peter Ayton, Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, City University of London


Psychologists’ experiments have the virtue of affording the study of behaviour under controlled conditions. However some criticize laboratory studies of decision making for their artifice and doubt that demonstrations of irrational decisions would occur outside the laboratory – e.g. when people make real choices involving significant payoffs. Here I discuss non-laboratory studies investigating how emotions influence decisions with significant consequences – and vice versa. One study analyses the effects of terrorist attacks on people¹s transport decisions. It appears that, in attempting to avoid dreaded risks, people subject themselves to larger,albeit non-dread, risks. A second study analyses how contestants in the TV game show “Deal or No Deal” react to the outcomes of the decisions they make. Specifically their happiness is affected by the amounts of money they win – but also by the amounts of money they discover they could have won if only they had chosen differently. Finally I discuss evidence that the results of the “Brexit” referendum in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the USA altered emotions which in turn changed people’s propensity for risk. These studies show effects incompatible with a strictly rational perspective on decision making.


Peter Ayton is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at City University London where he has been since 1992.  Most of his research since has been concerned with human judgement – particularly under conditions of uncertainty.  His publications frequently address applied issues including radiologists’ cancer screening decisions; magistrates’ bail decision-making; effects of emotion on stock traders’ decisions, optimistic bias in convicted prisoners and fallacies in professional footballers. He has held visiting positions at the University of California Los Angeles; Princeton and Carnegie-Mellon universities in the USA; the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany; INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and Singapore and Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia.  He is a member of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making and the European Association of Decision Making. His books include “Judgmental Forecasting”, “Subjective Probability” and “Myths and facts about football: The economics and psychology of the world’s greatest sport”.

Session Chair:  Dr. Volker Thoma, School of Psychology

Details are also in the Psychology Sharepoint calendar:


All students and staff are welcome. There is no need to RSVP.

We will also try to record the talk (if the presenter gives us permission) and it will be available on Moodle on the Psychology noticeboard.Here’s a link to previous talks and where this talk will be:


For any queries about the recording, please follow up with our Chief Technician, Kevin Head.

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