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Bruce Carlson

Dr. Bruce Carlson, portrait
Associate Professor Emeritus
Porter 200C

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B.A. (1975) Augustana College

Ph.D. (1984) University of Michigan


Dr. Carlson is not accepting new graduate students.

Research Area

  • Social Judgment & Behavioral Decision Making


  • Quantitative
  • Cognitive

Dr. Carlson’s main research focus is on how people interpret, estimate, evaluate and communicate numerical quantities. Numerical reasoning and judgment are fundamental cognitive skills essential to everyday life. Failure to judge or accurately communicate numerical quantities may have disastrous consequences, whether a person is an intelligence analyst for the federal government assessing troop strength or a lawyer estimating financial damages sustained by a client. Numerical estimation is also vital to more mundane tasks, such as a dieter tracking daily calorie consumption. Currently, Dr. Carlson is pursuing two lines of research. For the first, he is investigating the use of heuristics in the estimation of numerical quantitites. For the second, he is studying people's conceptions of randomness and how these conceptions influence their perceptions of the covariation of events.


Carlson, B. W. (2010). Simpson’s paradox. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of research design, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Holroyd, K. A., Cottrell, C. K., O'Donnell, F. J., Cordingley, G. E., Drew, J. B., Carlson, B. W., & Himawan, L. (2010). Effect of preventive (β blocker) treatment, behavioural migraine management, or their combination on outcomes of optimized acute treatment in frequent migraine: Randomized controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 341, 769.

France, C., France, J., Carlson, B., Himawan, L., Stephens, K. Y., Frame-Brown, T. A., Venable, G. A., Menitove, J. E. (2014). Fear of blood draws, vasovagal reactions, and retention among high school donors. Transfusion, 54, 918-924.

Vancouver, J. B., & Carlson, B. (2015). All things in moderation, including tests of mediation (at least some of the time). Organizational Research Methods, 18 (1), 70-91.

France, J., France, C., Carlson, B., Kessler, D., Rebosa, M., Shaz, B., Madden, K., & Carey, P. (2015). Motivating first-time, group O blood donors to return: Rationale and design of a randomized controlled trial of a post-donation telephone interview. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 44, 64-69.

France, C.R., France, J.L., Carlson, B.W., Kessler, D.A., Rebosa, M., Shaz, B.H., Madden, K., Carey, P.M., Fox, K.R., Livitz, I.E., Ankawi, B., & Slepian, P.M. (2016). A brief motivational interview with action and coping planning components enhances motivational autonomy among volunteer blood donors. Transfusion, 56, 1636-1644. PMID: 26826054.

Courses Taught


  • Intermediate Statistics
  • Intermediate Correlation and Regression
  • Multivariate Statistics II
  • Health Statistics


  • Experimental Psychology
  • Experiment Design and Analysis