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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/E01951X/1
Title: Science Team: The public view of uncertainty
Principal Investigator: Soane, Dr EC
Other Investigators:
Clough, Dr HE Newman, Dr DR Lunn, Professor RJ
Christie, Professor M Narendran, Dr S Pollard, Professor SJT
Challenor, Professor P Senn, Professor SJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Kingston Business School
Organisation: Kingston University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 September 2006 Ends: 02 September 2008 Value (£): 121,786
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Context of the researchThis project is a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding decision making and communication in three areas of great importance, and yet great uncertainty, both to the public and government agencies: food, health and the environment. As such, it fits well with the objectives of the EPSRC, in particular the research council's aim to promote greater engagement between the public and the research community regarding issues of public concern.Making choices about complex hazards are everyday occurrences for most people. The uncertainty surrounding many potential hazards creates challenges both for scientists who seek to understand and predict hazards more effectively, and for members of the public who have generally low levels of trust in scientists and government institutions. This research will link three important areas of research with the aim of developing a more holistic understanding of how to manage uncertain hazards. The research will focus on the way risks are perceived, the way that people use information to make decisions, and ways of communicating statistical information and uncertainty about the threats posed by a hazard.Aims and objectives1. To conduct a large scale survey into decision making under uncertainty. A web-based survey will be established. Participants will be recruited from advertisements in national newspapers and via participating university websites.2. To increase public engagement in the science of uncertainty. The collaborative development of a plan for a television programme with a broadcaster and production company. The programme plan will be based upon the survey results.3. To understand further participants' decision making in uncertain situations, e.g. about food, environmental and health risks. Quantitative data will be gathered concerning ratings of hazard information with regard to risk perception, emotional and cognitive decision making components and risk communication using a web-based survey. A 'Risk Watch' map will be developed to describe national patterns of risk perception.4. To find out what kind of information participants find most useful to aid their decision making. Qualitative data regarding desire for information and quantitative ratings of different styles of information presentation will be collected via a web-based survey.5. To further public understanding of how scientists make decisions under conditions of uncertainty. Quantitative and qualitative data will be gathered at the end of the web survey.6. To develop knowledge concerning how best to present information that has relevance to the public, yet lacks certainty. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis will be used to develop risk communication strategies communicated through the dissemination programme.7. To make public the findings of the research. A report presenting analysis and discussion of the data will be made available through the same web provider(s) as the survey. There will also be a number of academic conference presentations and articles published in appropriate journals. Potential application and benefitsThe project will have a range of benefits and applications. This project will enable large-scale participation in a study of decision making about uncertain hazards that will function both to involve participants in understanding more about how to make decisions about uncertainties, and to gather data about decision making. The data gathered will be used to provide scientists and stakeholder groups, such as the relevant government agencies, with more information about decision making and uncertainty communication than currently exists from typical student-based samples. There will be a widespread dissemination programme to both academic and non-academic audiences. Mainstream television broadcasters and production companies will be approached to discuss the development of a television programme.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.kingston.ac.uk