Risk and Uncertainty

Nathan Dieckmann

Q: How can we best communicate risk and uncertainty to facilitate sound decision making?


Laypeople and experts are commonly asked to make sense of complex predictions and risk assessments in environmental forecasts, terrorism warnings, financial forecasts, and health forecasts (e.g., the probability of survival after a surgical intervention). Most real-world predictions, however, involve uncertainty that needs to be represented in a way that facilitates sound decision making. We do basic and applied research on risk and uncertainty communication and consult with various private and government agencies. We have worked in a range of domains including health, intelligence forecasting, finance, and environmental risk management.

Selected publications:

Dieckmann, N. F., Peters, E., & Gregory, R. (in press). At home on the range? Lay perceptions of uncertainty distributions. Risk Analysis.

Gregory, R., & Dieckmann, N. F. (2013). Communicating about uncertainty in multi-stakeholder groups. In J. Arvai & Rivers (Eds.), Risk Communication: New Perspectives. Taylor & Francis.

Dieckmann, N. F., Peters, E., Gregory, R., & Tusler, M. (2012). Making sense of uncertainty: Advantages and disadvantages of providing an evaluative structure. Journal of Risk Research, 15(7), 717-735.

Gregory, R., Dieckmann, N. F., Peters, E., Failing, L., Long, G., & Tusler, M. (2012). Deliberative disjunction: Expert and public understanding of outcome uncertainty. Risk Analysis, 32(12), 2071-83.

Dieckmann, N. F., Mauro, R., & Slovic, P. (2010). The effects of presenting imprecise probabilities in intelligence forecasts. Risk Analysis, 30(6), 987-1001.

Peters, E., Dieckmann, N. F., Västfjäll, D., Mertz, C.K., Slovic, P. & Hibbard, J. H. (2009). Bringing meaning to numbers: The impact of evaluative categories on decisions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 15(3), 213-227.