Patten lecture: Paul Slovic
"The Psychology of Risk"
Paul Slovic a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and the founder and president of Decision Research is an expert on human judgment, decision-making and the psychology of risk. His research focuses on the psychological and cognitive process of decision-making on a range of issues, including the environment, earthquakes, smoking and terrorism.
A core finding of Slovic's research is that people react not so much to the probability and magnitude of a hazard as to qualitative factors that trigger concern. Those factors include whether the hazard is voluntary or imposed without consent; whether it is unfamiliar and uncertain; whether it threatens the future as well as the present; and whether it has catastrophic potential.
The resulting psychometric paradigm of risk perception helps explain why technologies such as nuclear power and genetically modified foods generate more opposition than their actuarial risk would explain and why routine but deadly risks like traffic accidents and HIV infection tend to be overlooked. Slovic shows that people rely on intuition and guesswork to navigate through uncertainty about risk.
Slovic publishes extensively and serves as a consultant in industry and government. In 1976, he founded Decision Research to help individuals and organizations understand and cope with the complex and often risky decisions of modern life.
The William T. Patten Foundation
The William T. Patten Foundation provides funds to bring distinguished scholars or practitioners in the sciences, the humanities and the arts to the Bloomington campus for a week. The foundation has brought over 150 scholars of extraordinary national and international distinction since 1937, making it the oldest lecture series at Indiana University. Lecturers are chosen by a campus-wide faculty committee.
William T. Patten graduated in 1893 with a Bachelor of Arts in history from IU. He then moved to Indianapolis and led a successful career in real estate and politics. He created an endowment for the university in 1931, with the purpose of bringing renowned leaders to the Bloomington campus.