A study of decision making about environmental risks using an online game

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Niko Yiannakoulias
School of Earth Environment and Society
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
E-mail: yiannan@mcmaster.ca
(905) 525-9140 ext. 20117

Dr. Cathy Slavik
Center for Science Communication Research
School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon
Email: cslavik@uoregon.edu

Research Sponsor:Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of the study is to understand the value that information has on environmental risk management decisions, and how access to this information can influence decisions that people face. This research will help me better understand what information is useful for households that need to make decisions about environmental risks in the future.

You are invited to take part in this study on the value and impact of information about environmental risks. Your participation will contribute to my understanding of the potential value and impact of information on decisions households and businesses face on a regular basis.

What will happen in this study?

Are there any risks to doing this study?:

The risks involved in participating in this study are minimal. You may feel some disappointment if your score is not as high as you think it should be. Your score will not be shared publicly with anyone, and is not important in our research; rather, it serves to help motivate you to play the game to do as well as you can, and get feedback from your decisions. If you are frustrated by the game, you can close your browser at any time.

Participation in this study is completely anonymous. The database where game data is stored is password protected and data are encrypted when you play the game as well as when the data are downloaded for use in the research.

Are there any benefits to doing this study?

Playing this game will generate useful data for understanding the value of information, but there may be some small direct benefits to participants as well. First, the game is designed to be fun to play, so you may receive some entertainment benefit from participation. Second, the game will expose you to the process of making decisions about risks that involves paying for information in risk management. Some participants may find this process interesting, especially if they have not encountered these kinds of risk management decisions before.

Payment or Reimbursement

There is no direct compensation for participating in this research.


Any information you submit for this study will be confidential. I will not be collecting your name or any information that would allow for you to be identified in the survey or the game. No one will know whether you participated in this study unless you choose to tell them.

All responses are provided online. All data are stored on a private server maintained by me. All data used in this study (all of which is collected anonymously) will be retained indefinitely by me, and shared publicly on my website. This makes it possible for other researchers to scrutinize my findings, and allows myself and other researchers to compare the results to other research findings in the future.

What if I change my mind about being in the study?

Your participation in this study is voluntary and you can withdraw from participation at any time within the game by closing your brower, or by clicking the Quit button. If you choose to withdraw during the game you will have the option of requesting that your data are not used in the research, at which point all the data from the survey and game that you generate will be deleted. However, there is no option to withdraw your data from the project after you have finished playing the game since your survey and game responses are not linked to your identity and you are unidentifiable.

How do I find out what was learned in this study?

I expect to have this study completed by approximately December 2024. Study results will be summarized on this page at that time.

Questions about the Study: If you have questions or need more information about the study itself, please contact me at: yiannan@mcmaster.ca.

This study has been reviewed by the McMaster University Research Ethics Board and received ethics clearance. If you have concerns or questions about your rights as a participant or about the way the study is conducted, please contact:

McMaster Research Ethics Secretariat
Telephone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 23142
C/o Research Office for Administrative Development and Support
E-mail: ethicsoffice@mcmaster.ca


To participate in this study, please click here.