Peter Ayton: To Risk or Not to Risk

Peter Ayton, a researcher from City University London, UK, investigates how people make judgments and decisions under conditions of risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Ayton will be speaking at the Invited Symposium Emotional Influences on Decision Making at the 24th APS Annual Convention in Chicago. Ayton’s talk in this symposium, Dread Risk: Terrorism and Bicycle Accidents, will discuss a claim made by Gigerenzer (2004) that dread evoked by the September 11, 2001 attacks prompted switching from flying to driving, producing additional road accidents causing 1,500 fatalities. Ayton considers these disputed findings in light of analyses of the effects of the 2005 London public transport attacks on bicycling and bicycling casualties.


Question 1: How did you become interested in psychological science?

Question 2: What will you be speaking on at the 24th APS Annual Convention?

Question 3: Peter Ayton on the psychological science of decision-making in sports.

One way Ayton and other psychological scientists study decision making is through sports. “Thanks to the internet,” says Ayton, “people have coded in all sorts of interesting and elaborate ways, the outcomes of games and events in games, and that provides a very rich sort of data for not studying sport per say, but decision making generally…sport is a kind of test bed for things we can look at.”

One bias discovered through sports statistics, says Ayton, is the “hot-hand fallacy,” which was first coined by APS Fellow Tom D. Gilovich. The fallacy arose from the belief that a basketball player is more likely to score if he or she just scored, making that player “hot.” By analyzing data from professional basketball games, Gilovich showed that the idea of players being “hot” was false.

But Ayton says this finding doesn’t stop people from believing in the fallacy and making bets based on it. So if you’re filling out a bracket, don’t forget to let psychological science be your guide as you make your picks.

Ayton will be speaking at the Invited Symposium Emotional Influences on Decision Making at the 24th APS Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, USA on the topic of Dread Risk: Terrorism and Bicycle Accidents.

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.