Ellen Peters, School of Journalism and Communication

Academic Areas:
Science Communication, Judgment and Decision-Making, Numeracy, Affect and Emotion, Adult Aging

Ellen Peters is an academic expert in decision-making and the science of science communication. Her primary research interests are how people judge and decide, and how evidence-based communication can boost comprehension and improve decision-making in health, financial, and environmental contexts. She is especially interested in the basic building blocks of human judgment and decision making—such as emotions and number abilities—and their links to effective communication techniques. These processes are also central to the effects of adult aging in decision-making as well as to public policy issues, such as how to communicate about the health effects of smoking or the pros and cons of cancer screenings and treatments. She is also interested in methods to increase number ability, a.k.a. numeracy, to improve decision-making and, in turn, health and financial outcomes.

As the Philip H. Knight Professor of Communication and director of the Media Center for Science and Technology at the University of Oregon, Ellen explores how policy makers, physicians, and other experts can enhance public understanding of science and technology by advancing the science of science communication.

Contact: ellenpet@uoregon.edu | (541) 346-3828 | @ellenpetersjdm

Recent News: 
Maths teaser that adds up to better health and wealth (The Times, Oct. 5, 2019)
Math skills aren’t enough to get through hard decisions – you need confidence, too (The Conversation, Sept. 9, 2019)
Leader named for new Media Center for Science and Technology (Around the O, June 12, 2019) 
Fear of math is harmful to your health. This woman wants to help. (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 2018)
Powell: How to embrace risk and make better money decisions (USA Today, April 18, 2018)
Mathematics Adeptness Will Keep You Healthy & Wise, Researchers Say This Is a Must-Have Skill: Poor mathematical skill may lead to negative impact on health conditions and everyday lives (News Guards, March 9, 2018)
How Poor Number Skills Are Hurting Americans’ Health: Here are five ways doctors can help (The Wall Street Journal, “Custom Studios,” July 14, 2017)
Math class isn’t as pointless as you once thought (New York Post, July 13, 2017)
Know your numbers: Arithmetic and better health (CBC News, February 26, 2017)
The chemicals in burnt toast and crispy fries won't kill you, but the calories might (Popular Science, Jan. 27, 2017)
What’s the Best Way to Convince a Climate Change Denier? (NPR Science Friday, Jan. 6, 2017)
Are you listening when we do the numbers? (NPR Marketplace, Aug. 2, 2016) 
Let Smokers See the Warning They Need (New York Times Opinion, June 3, 2016) 
Study: Graphic cigarette labels really do work (Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 31, 2015) 
Smokers are more likely to quit if they see disgusting images of what smoking does (New York Daily News, Dec. 23, 2015) 
Smoking bans, taxes encourage quitting, study finds (The Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 23, 2015) 
Graphic Warnings on Cigarettes Help Smokers Consider Quitting (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 23, 2015) 
A Good Mood Boosts Brainpower in the Aged (The Wall Street Journal, “Ideas Market,” Feb. 6, 2013)