My current research project is looking at the role that heuristics play in shaping risk regulation regimes and outcomes. The basic idea is that it's not merely cognitive heuristics which are at work; instead, scientists, lawmakers, and regulators use a series of deliberative rules of thumb in evaluating risks and selecting options for their management. I'm looking at how these heuristics evolve, how they are legitimised, what biases or blindspots they produce, and ultimately, what all of this means for debates about how best to govern risks to public and environmental health.
Before coming to CRASSH, I was a researcher at Delft University of Technology, Lancaster University, and Cranfield University. In addition to risk regulation, I'm interested in the devices that people use to make sense out of risk issues (e.g. metaphors, analogies); the way that organisations detect and interpret cues during crisis periods (e.g. water quality incidents); and potential applications of the cognitive continuum theory to studies of risk perception.
Dr Brian MacGillivray is a Mellon Sawyer Seminar Research Fellow at CRASSH 2009-10.