Nick Chater

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Professor of Behavioural Science

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From taking risks to choosing who to vote for to picking a product in a supermarket, Nick considers why people decide what they do and how robust those choices are. With easily understood insights and examples he explores how we’re influenced by language, social pressure, and a desire to appear consistent. He looks at what these behaviours mean for business and policy makers, the power of being aware of them, and how to influence change.


Nick Chater is the Professor of Behavioural Science at the Warwick Business School and an expert in understanding why people make the decisions they do. He applies this to everything from government to business and reveals the reasons for choices, risks and preferences.

Throughout his academic career Nick has worked on the roles of psychology and emotion in business, judgement and decision-making. His work applies experimental psychology to real world economics and business from pricing to brand perception. It also examines the use of language, attitudes to risk, and choice, and has been used by the private sector as well as government and regulators to change public behaviour in areas from health to paying taxes.

In presentations Nick helps audiences to understand human behaviour and decision-making. He challenges the idea that understanding behaviour will somehow answer all the questions when in fact it reveals what is and isn’t known, and therefore where to focus. He also considers why experimentation is relatively rare compared to people blindly chasing ideas and hunches that they suspect will be right. He looks at the power of social pressures, the desire to find patterns where none exist, the effects of language, and how people justify their decisions and strive for consistency. He asks why people think they’re right and how frail their decisions can be once presented back to them in a different light.

From attitudes towards risk to the importance of feedback in order to improve judgement, trust and co-operation to influencing change, Nick’s insight have practical business and policy relevance. He’s applied his insights to voting choices, language and misconceptions in the tech sector. He’s helped retailers, investors and HR departments.

Nick has held chairs in psychology at Warwick and University College London and has over 200 publications to his name. The author of many academic books, he has also written for wider audiences with The Mind is Flat: The Illusion of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind, a look at why most decisions are taken at a superficial and impulsive level and we generally improvise our way through the world. Amongst various media appearances he was scientist-in-residence on Radio 4's The Human Zoo. He is a Director of the business Decision Technology which combines strategy and research for business and government. He is also on the advisory board of the Behavioural Insight Team, formerly part of the Cabinet Office and often referred to as the ‘Nudge Unit’ after the influential book Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler.

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