Patten Lecturer Professor Paul Slovic

Professor Paul Slovic visits IU next week. Paul is the world expert on risk perceptions and more recently compassion fade. Paul’s research on risk focuses on the processes by which people use available evidence and experience to judge risks. In his work on compassion fade, he answers a deeply painful and puzzling problem relating to genocide: why is it that the more who die, the less we care? His work can be briefly summarized by the title of his latest book: Numbers and nerves - information, emotion, and meaning in a world of data. Below is a list of his events open to all. See you there. 

Cognitive Science Colloquium - Lessons Learned from Failed Experiments, Torturing Data, and Persistence: Lemonade Anyone? @4pm, Psychology 101, Monday, October 24, 2016

I was taught to do controlled lab experiments to test theoretically relevant hypotheses. I tried to do this. Quite often the design failed and the results were disappointing. Or I noticed something unexpected in the findings. In some of those instances I dwelled on the failures and pursued the surprises with further analyses or new studies, and made a few interesting and possibly even important discoveries. I shall review this landscape of disappointments and surprises and argue that experiments and other ways of collecting data are not only for testing hypotheses but rather are an aid to thinking and discovery.

Patten Lecture - The Psychology of Risk @7:30pm, Presidents Hall, Tuesday October 25, 2016; 9pm Reception to follow in the State Room West, IMU

Studies of risk perception examine the judgments people make when they are asked to characterize and evaluate hazardous activities and technologies. This research aims to aid risk analysis and policymaking by (i) providing a basis for understanding and anticipating public responses to hazards and(ii) improving the communication of risk information among lay people, technical experts, and decision makers. This work assumes that those who promote and regulate health and safety need to understand how people think about and respond to risk. Without such understanding, well-intended policies may be ineffective. Among the questions I shall address are: How do people think about risk? What factors determine the perception of risk and the acceptance of risk? What role do emotion and reason play in risk perception? What are some of the social and economic implications of risk perceptions? Along the way I shall address such topics as: the subjective and value-laden nature of risk assessment, the multidimensionality of risk, sex, politics, and emotion in risk judgments, risk and trust, and risk perception and terrorism.

Roundtable discussion on public perceptions of risk and climate change @9:45-11:15am, The Bridgewaters Lounge in Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Wednesday October 26, 2016

An informal discussion with Paul Slovic, John Graham, John Applegate, and Shahzeen Attari on perceptions of climate change risks and action. Open to all.

Ask Paul Anything @3-4pm, Georgian Room, Thursday October 27, 2016

An exclusively all-student event (postdocs, PhD, masters, and undergraduate students). Students can “Ask Paul Anything” similar to reddit’s AMA (Ask ME Anything) forum. Bring questions for Paul. Open to All.

Patten Lecture - Moral Deficiencies in the Arithmetic of Compassion @7:30pm, Presidents Hall, Thursday October 27, 2016

In many human and environmental crises, individuals and their governments exhibit a morally troubling response to the risk of mass casualties that can be described by the phrase ”the more who die, the less we care”, reflecting a flawed “arithmetic of compassion”. I shall present research demonstrating three non-rational psychological mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon: psychic numbing, pseudoinefficacy, and the prominence effect. After documenting these obstacles to rational decision making, I shall explore ways to counteract them—a roadmap for future research and its application to crisis management.