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Dr Claire Heard

Research Associate

heard2Room: K7.05

Department of War Studies

King's College London

Strand Campus

020 7848 1298


I am a Research Associate in the Department of War Studies and I am Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My main research interests lie in the areas of risk communication and health-related decision making.  My current research, funded by the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, focusses on assessing the impact of communication on the uptake of emergency first-aid training.

My doctoral project focussed on the varied effects that changing the presentation of health information can play on perceptions, comprehension, and choices made based on this information.  Topics of investigation included: 1) investigating speed-of-ageing metaphors formats (versus traditional hazard ratio formats); 2) investigating the role that language, particular emotive language has on information processing and risk perceptions; 3) the effect of presentation order and orientation on information search (measured via eye-tracking methodology) and subsequent option evaluations and choices.  

Research Interests

My research interests include the areas of applied judgement and decision making, risk perception, risk communication and the application of process-tracking methodologies (e.g. eye-tracking) in investigating such research areas.  My main research focus is on investigating risk communication, risk perception and decision making in the health domain.  In particular, this research is interested in understanding how people use health-related information and investigating the factors which can affect how people perceive, understand and subsequently use such health information.   This includes understanding how the communication of first aid information affects beliefs about first aid and first aid behaviour, but also how changes to the format, language (i.e. its emotionality) or layout of risk and benefit information about a treatment option or lifestyle choice change people’s perceptions and understanding of that information, and affect choices made based on that information.  Such work has used a range of quantitative, qualitative and process-tracing (e.g. eye-tracking) methodologies to investigate these presentational factors.


Heard, C.L., Rakow, T., & Foulsham, T. (Accepted - In Press).   Understanding the effect of information presentation order and orientation on information search and treatment evaluation. Medical Decision Making (MDM).

Heard, C.L., Rakow, T., & Spiegelhalter, D. (2018). Using Speed-of-Ageing Metaphors in Health Communication:  A comparison of the comprehension and perception for speed-of-ageing and hazard ratio formats. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 32, 81-93.

Heard, C.L., Rakow, T., & Foulsham, T. (2017).  The role of presentation order and orientation on information search and evaluations: An eye-tracking study. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E.J. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2174-2180). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Rakow, T., Heard, C.L., & Newell, B.R. (2015). Meeting three challenges in risk communication: phenomena, numbers and emotions. Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain   Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 2, 147-156. 

Heard, C. (2012). Neurotransmitters: The effect on gambling behaviour in recreational and pathological gamblers. Psych-talk, 72, 8-10.

Conferences/ Engagements

Cognitive Science Society (CogSci2017), London (Poster):  The role of presentation order and orientation on information search and evaluations: An eye-tracking study.

JDMx Early Career Researchers Conference 2016, Basel (Talk):  Presenting risk and benefits: The effect of order and orientation on search behaviour and subsequent perceptions (evaluations) of treatments: An eye-tracking study.

Subjective Probability Utility & Decision Making (SPUDM) 2015, Budapest (Poster):  The effect of risk type on perceptions of graphically presented risk.

Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality 2015, Max Planck Institute Berlin (Poster): The effect of presentation format on the perception of lifetime behaviour benefits and risks.



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