Ms Egle Butt

Research project: The effect of outcome severity and base rate on the interpretation of verbal probability expressions


When making decisions under uncertain conditions with very little information on hand, people do not simply calculate probability. They use subjective knowledge derived from the social context in which the problem is situated. One's culture of reasoning (eg., face saving needs) and outcome properties (eg., outcome severity and base rate) were shown to influence decisions under risk and uncertainty (eg., communicating the likelihood of a medical condition). In 5 experimental studies, using a regression based mediated moderation approach, my research investigates how people make use of outcome properties to predict legal outcomes and environmental risks, and how face saving measures shape this prediction. Understanding how people interpret probability terms would aid in a more accurate communication of risk and would improve subsequent decision making. 

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: The effect of outcome severity and base rate on the interpretation of verbal probability expressions
  • Research supervisor: Professor Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau


I am a part-time doctoral student at Kingston University Business School with expected date of completion in 2019. I received a BA (hons) degree in English Language & Communication and Psychology at Kingston University (2008-2011) before joining a doctoral research programme in 2012. My research interests lie in the area of judgment and decision making. Specifically, what factors influence our understanding of probability terms and how to best tailor risk communication in contexts such as criminal litigation and climate change. During my doctoral studies I have worked as a research assistant (2013-2016), an HPL (2012-2016) and a data analyst (2014-2016). Since 2016 I took on a full-time role as a Planning Officer (Institutional Research) at Kingston University.

Areas of research interest

  • Risk communication
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Verbal probabilities

Conference papers

Butt, E., Sirota, M., Juanchich, M., & Vallée –Tourangeau, G. (2016). Are severe outcomes more risky? The role of base rate. In: FUR: Foundations of Utility and Risk, 27 - 30 June 2016, Coventry, UK.

Butt, E., Vallée-Tourangeau, G., Juanchich, M., & Sirota, M. (2015). Communicating probability of environmental risk: Accounting for face-threatening contexts. In: SPUDM 25: Subjective Probability, Utility and Decision Making, 16-20 August 2015, Budapest, Hungary.

Butt, E.,Vallée –Tourangeau, G., & Juanchich, M. (2014). Iinterpreting probability of severe outcomes: the politeness account. In: Decision Making Bristol 2014, 9-12 September 2014, Bristol, UK.

Butt, E., Villejoubert, G., Juanchich, M., & Vallée-Tourangeau, F. (2013, August). The effect of conviction severity and base-rate in interpreting linguistic probability expressions. In: SPUDM 24: Subjective Probability, Utility and Decision Making, 18-22 August 2013, Barcelona, Spain.