Dr Magda Osman

Head of Research and Analysis at Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge

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Head of Research and Analysis, Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge

The ethos of Dr Osman's work has been to take a critical eye to well accepted views and challenge the status quo. As a result, her research interests cover a range of areas that include decision-making, learning, problem-solving, biases, risk and uncertainty, agency and control, and the unconscious. (see https://magdaosman.com/)

Her research helps answer questions like:

  • How do we make decisions in uncertain and risky situations?
  • What common folk beliefs are there on how our unconscious is being manipulated?
  • Why do some factors impact our choices more than others?
  • Why nudges are not the answer to effective wide scale behavioural change?

For instance, her work has shown that when making complex decisions, people do best when we figure out what the underlying causal set up of the situation is. Her work also shows that our belief in our ability to control the world around us helps to reduce our experiences of uncertainty, and helps improve our actual ability to control different situations. Her work and that of her lab also helps to show that methods, such as nudges, designed to improve our decision-making are not reliable, are ethically problematic, and that the public have concerns about them, and that they often backfire.