In our latest guest blog, Johnny Runge and Beti Baraki from the Policy Institute at King’s College London discuss how individuals may use statistics in their personal lives, and they ask you to get in touch with suggestions.

We are launching an exciting new project on whether and how people use statistics to make personal decisions, and we want your help. Please read more below, and then complete this short survey.

Our lives are shaped by the decisions we make, and they can often be daunting, especially when they are big life decisions. But how do we arrive at these decisions? In unravelling this, we can consider whether decisions are deliberate or coincidental, if they rely on intuition, or tradition, and what role other people play in this, such as whether we seek advice or are  affected by friends and family or companies, celebrities and influencers.

Within this inevitably complex range of factors is our research question: to what extent do we consider evidence, data and official statistics when we make a personal decision?

For instance,

If statistics are taken into account, we want to deepen understanding of this process. We seek to gain insights into how deliberate or not the use of statistics is, including whether people realise they are using it at the time, and whether they actively seek out these statistics and data or randomly come across them. For instances where statistics are used, we are also interested in the extent to which individuals feel this improved their decisions.

If people do not consider any data, we want to better make sense of why they do not. We aim to uncover whether these individuals would have done so, if they knew relevant statistics existed, if they had been more accessible, or if they had trusted them more.

These are the types of questions we will explore in a new project using semi-structured interviews, commissioned by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), and led by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, in collaboration with the Behavioural Insights Team. OSR has previously written about why they are interested in the role statistics play in personal decision-making, and how they see it as crucial that the wider public can use official statistics directly to inform their decisions.

To start the project, we want to create a list of as many examples as possible about how statistics can (or should) be used to inform personal decisions. We ask for your help, whether you are a member of the public, or a statistician, researcher or policymaker.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions about decisions that could (or should) be informed by data or statistics? Or, if you are an expert in a certain area, think about the key statistics in your area, and think about what personal decisions they could potentially inform? If that is the case, we would really appreciate if you complete this brief survey.