Victoria Shaffer

Victoria Shaffer
Associate Professor
208 McAlester Hall
(573) 882-9094
Lab Area: 
Research Interests: 

My research focuses on applying decision psychology and behavioral economics to inform practical problems in medical decision making. In particular, my work has applied research about judgment and decision making to the design of patient decision support tools. I am particularly interested in how the inclusion of different elements in patient decision aids either support or bias patients’ decision making processes. Previous research has focused on the impact of patient narratives in decision aids, attitudes towards the use of clinical decision support systems in medicine, and the behavioral economics of noncash incentives.


West Chester University, B.A., Psychology, 2000
Ohio State University, M.A., Quantitative Psychology, 2002
Ohio State University, Ph.D., Quantitative Psychology, 2005

Selected Publications: 

Shaffer, V. A. (in press). Nudges for health policy: Effectiveness and limitations. Missouri Law Review.

Shaffer, V. A. & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (in press). Narratives in decision aids: A controversy. In G. Lucius-Hoene, T. Meyer, & C. Holmberg (Eds.), Illness Narratives in Practice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Shaffer, V. A., Focella, E. S., Hathaway, A., Scherer, L. D., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (in press). On the usefulness of narratives: An interdisciplinary review and theoretical model. Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Weiger, P. & Shaffer, V. A. (2017). Aiding risk information learning through simulated experience (ARISE): Using simulated outcomes to improve understanding of conditional probabilities in prenatal Down syndrome screening. Patient Education & Counseling, 100, 1882-1889. doi:

Loewenstein, G., Hagmann, D., Schwartz, J., Ericson, K., Kessler, J. B., Bhargava, S., Blumenthal-Barby, J., D’Aunno, T., Handel, B., Kolstad, J., Nussbaum, D. Shaffer, V. A., Skinner, j. Ubel, P., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2017). A behavioral blueprint for improving health care policy. Behavioral Science & Policy, 3(1), 53-66. doi:

Scherer, L. D., Shaffer, V. A., Caverly, T., Scherer, A. M., Zikmund-Fisher, B. J., Kullgren, J., & Fagerlin, A. (2017). The role of the Affect Heuristic and cancer anxiety in responding to negative information about medical tests. Psychology & Health, 1-21. doi:  

Shaffer, V. A., Scherer, L. D., Focella, E. S., Hinnant, A., Len-Rios, M. E., Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2017). What is the story with narratives? How using personal narratives in journalism changes health behavior. Health Communication, doi:

Shaffer, V. A., Focella, E. S., Scherer, L. D., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2016). Debiasing affective forecasting errors with targeted, but not representative, experience narratives. Patient Education and Counseling, 99, 1611-1619. doi:

Scherer, L. D., Shaffer, V. A., Patel, N., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2016). Can the vaccine adverse event reporting system be used to increase vaccine acceptance and trust? Vaccine, 34 (21), 2424-2429. doi:

Focella, E. S., Zikmund-Fisher, B. J., & Shaffer, V. A. (2016). What can realistic previews do for physicians and patients? Applying realistic previews to increase adherence and patient satisfaction. Medical Decision Making, 36, 683-685. doi:

Focella, E. S., Shaffer, V. A., Dannecker, E. A., Clark, M. J., & Schopp, L. H. (2015). Racial/ethnic differences in the use of primary care and preventative health services at a Midwestern university. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Advance online publication doi: 10.1007/s40615-015-0148-1

Shaffer, V. A., Templin, S., & Hulsey, L.  (2014).  The effect of narrative information in a patient decision aid for early stage breast cancer. Health Communication 29(1), 64-73. doi:

Bekker, H.L., Winterbottom, A., Butow, P., Dillard A., Feldman-Stewart, D., Jibaja-Weiss, M., Shaffer, V A., Volk, R.  (2013). Using personal stories. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 13 (Suppl2), S9. doi:

Shaffer, V. A., Owens, J., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2013). The effects of patient narratives on information search in a web-based breast cancer decision aid: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(2), e273. doi:

Shaffer, V. A., Hulsey, L., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2013). The effects of process-focused versus experience-focused narratives in a breast cancer decision task. Patient Education and Counseling, 93, 255-264. doi:

Probst, C. A., Shaffer, V. A., & Chan, R. Y. (2013). The impact of default choices in electronic medical records on clinical ordering practices. Health Psychology, 32, 995-1002. doi:

Shaffer, V. A. & Zikmund-Fisher, B. J. (2013). All stories are not alike: A purpose-, content-, and valence-based taxonomy of patient narratives in decision aids. Medical Decision Making, 33, 4-13. doi:

Shaffer, V. A., Probst, C. A., Merkle, E. C., Medow, M. A., & Arkes, H. R.  (2013). Why do patients derogate physicians who use a computer-based diagnostic support system? Medical Decision Making, 33, 108-118. doi:

Medow, M. A., Arkes, H. R., & Shaffer, V. A.  (2010).  Specialists or decision aids: Who/what is attended to more? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(4), 316-320. doi:

Lambdin, C. G. & Shaffer, V. A.  (2009).  Are within-subjects designs transparent? Judgment and Decision Making, 4(7), 554-566.

Shaffer, V. A. & Arkes, H. R.  (2009).  Preference reversals in the evaluation of cash versus noncash incentives.  Journal of Economic Psychology, 30, 859-872. doi:

Shaffer, V.A. & Hulsey, L.  (2009).  Are patient decision aids effective? Insight from revisiting the debate between correspondence and coherence theories of judgment. Judgment and Decision Making, 4 (2), 141-146.

Arkes, H. R., Shaffer, V. A. & Medow, M. A.  (2008).  The influence of a physician’s use of a diagnostic decision aid on the malpractice verdicts of mock jurors.  Medical Decision Making, 28 (2), 201-208. doi:

Arkes, H. R., Shaffer, V. A., & Medow, M. A.  (2007).  Patients derogate physicians who use a computer-assisted diagnostic aid.  Medical Decision Making, 27 (2), 189-202. doi:

Arkes, H. R., Shaffer, V. A., & Dawes, R.  (2006). Comparing holistic and disaggregated ratings in the evaluation of scientific presentations.  Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19, 429-439. doi: