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The University of Southampton
Centre for Risk Research

Seminar by Dr. Katsikopoulos Highlights Why Decisions Under Risk and Under Uncertainty Are Not That Different

Published: 19 December 2014

The Centre for Risk Research (CRR) and the Centre for Operational Research, Management Science & Information Systems (CORMSIS), recently co-hosted a seminar by Dr. Katsikopoulos from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin.

In his engaging seminar, Dr. Konstantinos Katsikopoulos explained that in decisions under risk, the alternative options, their possible outcomes and the probabilities with which these outcomes are known, but in decisions under uncertainty, some of these options, outcomes or probabilities are not known. He also pointed out that standard decision theoretic models tend to apply just to decisions under risk; however, except for some situations such as playing in casinos, most decisions are in practice decisions under uncertainty, and there is consensus that people then use simple rules of thumb. Dr. Katsikopoulos went one step further and used evidence from a host of laboratory experiments to argue that people use simple rules of thumb to make decisions under risk as well. Based on examples from diverse topics such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, the adaptive behaviours of bees, and peacekeeping in Afghanistan, and based on more general analyses, he presented conditions under which simple rules of thumb lead to good decisions and under which they do not.

Explaining the decisions of bees

Dr. Konstantinos Katsikopoulos studied cognitive psychology and applied mathematics and obtained a Ph.D. in operational research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Then, he was a visiting assistant professor of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, he serves as the deputy director of the Centre for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition. He is on the editorial board of the journal Judgment and Decision Making. He has received a German Science Foundation Fellowship for Young Researchers and also won a grant from the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study to organize the 2014 Blankensee Colloquium on the comparative analysis of nudge, boost and design.

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