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RISK CDT – Communicating uncertainty to humans

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PLEASE APPLY ONLINE TO THE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING, PROVIDING THE PROJECT TITLE, NAME OF THE PRIMARY SUPERVISOR AND SELECT THE PROGRAMME CODE "EGPR" (PHD - SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING)

This is a Ph.D. project within the multi-disciplinary EPSRC and ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) on Quantification and Management of Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments, within the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty at the University of Liverpool. The project includes collaboration and extensive secondments with industry partners to build an optimal basis for employability.
Communicating uncertainty to humans is notoriously difficult, yet decision makers must understand relevant uncertainties to make optimal choices. It is fundamental for meaningful informed consent in medicine and essential for prudent business planning and financial forecasting. It is an absolute sine qua non for scientific and engineering practice.

Although various verbal, numerical, and graphical techniques for expressing quantitative uncertainties have been proposed, none has proved to be reliably effective for general use. They regularly fail dramatically in high-stakes discourse such as patient counselling and communication of risk assessments.

Recent psychometric research has shed light on how humans recognise and process uncertainties of different kinds. This project will make use of this research to design and test methods for expressing and communicating uncertainty to medical patients, decision makers in business, and technical practitioners in science and engineering. Some of the questions will include the following:
• How can risk communicators improve their effectiveness in conveying the whole story with uncertainty?
• What provisions can be erected to ensure the recipient or audience actually apprehends a message’s uncertainty and its import?
• How can improvements in decision making from alternative communication strategies be assessed?

This project will require standard ethics training as it will likely involve research with human participants. It will also make use of ludic elicitation, so computer programming skills will be useful.

Funding Notes

The PhD Studentship (Tuition fees + stipend of £ 14,553 annually over 3 years) is available for Home/EU students. In addition, a budget for use in your own responsibility will be provided.

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