Joe Árvai

Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise; Director, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise


PhD, University of British Columbia (risk and decision sciences)

MS, University of British Columbia (oceanography)

BS, University of British Columbia (ecology) 

(734) 647-3891


Dr. Joe Árvai is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the School for Environment and Sustainability, and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He is also the Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Joe is an internationally respected expert in the risk and decisions sciences, and he is a frequent advisor to governments, government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector.

The research carried out by Joe and his group has two main areas of emphasis: First, Joe and his research group conduct experiments and surveys aimed at advancing our understanding of how people—working individually and in groups—process information and make choices with a specific focus on how people make (or, often, attempt to avoid) necessary tradeoffs. Second, Joe and his team conduct research focused on developing and testing decision-aiding tools and approaches that can be used by people to improve decision quality across a wide range of environmental, social, and economic contexts.

Research in Joe’s group is applied, and accounts for decision-making by a broad spectrum of public and stakeholder groups, as well as by technical experts, business leaders, and policy makers. To support their applied focus, Joe and his group conduct research across a wide range topical and pressing decision contexts; these contexts range from environmental risk management and business strategy, to consumer choice and policy-making.  

A hallmark of the work in Joe’s group is making results and recommendations from their research available and—importantly—useful to wide range of audiences, including other scholars, policy-makers, business leaders, and the public.

  • Decision support for the triple-bottom-line.

  • Improving climate risk management choices. 

  • Consumers’ perceptions and acceptance of controversial technologies and policies.

  • The internal consistency of environmental choices: Do people’s choices reflect their values?

  • Fake news about climate change: Diagnosing the problem and prescribing treatments.

  • Will millennials save the world? Intergenerational responses to environmental losses.

  • Public perceptions of federal science advisory boards.

  • Consumers’ acceptance of input and recommendations from artificial intelligence.

Select publications: 
  • Bessette, D., R. Wilson, and J. Árvai. 2019. Do people disagree with themselves? Exploring the internal consistency of complex, unfamiliar and risky decisions. Journal of Risk Research. In press.
  • Campbell-Arvai, V., D. Bessette, D., L. Kenney and J. Arvai. 2019. Improving decision-making processes for carbon management initiatives. International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management. In press.
  • Goto-Gray, S., K. Raimi, R. Wilson, and J. Arvai. 2019. Will millennials save the world? The effect of age and generational differences on environmental concern. Journal of Environmental Management In press.
  • Jobin, M., V. Visschers, O. van Vliet, J. Árvai, and M. Siegirst. 2019. Affect or information? Examining drivers of public preferences of future energy portfolios in Switzerland. Energy Research and Social Science, 52: 20-29.
  • Wernstedt, K., P. S. Roberts, J. Arvai, and K. Redmond. 2018. How emergency managers (mis)interpret forecasts. Disasters, 43: 88-109.
  • Bessette, D.L. and J.L. Arvai. 2018. Engaging attribute tradeoffs in clean energy portfolio development. Energy Policy, 115: 221-229.
  • Tanner, A. and J. Árvai. 2018. Perceptions of risk and vulnerability following exposure to a major natural disaster: The Calgary flood of 2013. Risk Analysis, 38: 548-561.
  • van der Linden, S., E. Maibach, J. Cook, A. Leiserowitz, M. Ranney, S. Lewandowsky, J. Árvai, E. Weber. 2017. Culture versus cognition is a false dilemma. Nature Climate Change, 7: 457. 
  • Weaver, C.P., R.H. Moss, K.L. Ebi., P.H. Gleick, C. Tebaldi, R.S. Wilson, and J.L. Arvai. 2017. Reframing climate change assessments around risk: Recommendations for the U.S. national climate assessment. Environmental Research Letters, 12(8).
  • Visschers, V., J. Shi, M. Siegrist, and J. Arvai, 2017. Beliefs and values explain international differences in perception of solar radiation management: Insights from a cross-country survey. Climatic Change, 142: 531-544.