Ellen Peters is an academic expert in decision making and the science of science communication. Her primary research interests concern how people judge and decide, and how evidence-based communication can boost comprehension and improve decisions in health, financial, and environmental contexts. She is especially interested in the basic building blocks of human judgment and decision making—such as emotions and number abilities—and their links to effective communication techniques. These processes are also central to the effects of adult aging on decision making as well as to public policy issues, such as how to communicate about the health effects of smoking or about the pros and cons of cancer screenings and treatments. She is also interested in methods to increase number ability, a.k.a. numeracy, to improve decision making and, in turn, health and financial outcomes.
As Philip H. Knight Chair, Director of the Center for Science Communication Research (SCR), and Professor in both the School of Journalism and Communication and the Psychology Department at the University of Oregon, she explores how policy makers, physicians, and other experts can enhance public understanding of science and technology by advancing the science of science communication.
Her book, Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers, was published by Oxford University Press.
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