Matthew Welsh

Dr Matthew Welsh

Senior Lecturer

Australian School of Petroleum & Energy Resources

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology


I am a psychological scientist specialising in decision making . In my role at the Australian School of Petroleum and Energy Resources, I research how people's decision-making tendencies impact the choices they make and the economic flow-on effects of this for industries like oil and gas, which depend on expert judgement and estimation to reduce uncertainty.

As part of this research, I work with oil companies, helping them to identify psychological biases in personnel and processes and developing training regimes and decision support tools to limit or eliminate those biases.

I have supervised students in both ASPER and the School of Psychology at the Honours and PhD level, and have taught undergraduate and Masters level courses in both schools as well.

My key areas of interest are: 1) decision making; 2) biases; 3) individual differences; 4) human factors; and 5) the interaction of these in the elicitation of expert opinion.

My primary focus is on decision making in real world problems such as those faced in the petroleum industry. For example, examining the impact of cognitive biases on petroleum decisions and mechanisms for reducing these - whether through selection and training of personnel or the redesign of processes to better align with people's decision making capabilities. Specifically, considering how we should ask questions to translate beliefs into usable, numerical formats while avoiding biases known to affect judgements made under uncertainty.

From this research, I have written a book: Bias in Science and Communication: A Field Guide (IoP Press, 2018) and more than 50 papers in psychology and industry outlets and, in 2020-21, was named a Society of Petroleum Engineers Distinguished Lecturer, speaking on how an understanding of cognitive psychology can help to improve industry decisions.

I have reviewed papers for Psychological Science, Cognitive Science, the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, AAPG Bulletin, SPE Economics and Management, the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Management Research Review and the Journal of Mathematical Psychology.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2013 - ongoing Senior Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2007 - 2012 Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2004 - 2006 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Unibversity of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2011 - 2012 University of Adelaide Australia Grad. Cert. Ed. (Higher)
    1999 - 2002 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1995 - 1998 University of Adelaide Australia BSc(Hons)
    1989 - 1993 University of Adelaide Australia BA(Hons)
  • Research Interests

  • Begg, S.H. & Welsh, M.B. - ARC Linkage Project LP160101460 with Santos and Woodside. $761,000. (2017-2020)
  • Welsh, M.B. & Begg, S.H. – Santos & Woodside. “Centre for Improved Business Performance Phase V “. $150,000
  • Steacy, S., Begg, S.H. & Welsh, M.B. – University of Adelaide Interdisciplinary Research Fund “Psychology of risk perception”. $22,000 (2015).
  • Begg, S.H & Welsh, M.B. – BG Group, ExxonMobil, Santos Ltd & Woodside. “Centre for Improved Business Performance Phase IV”. $300,000 p.a. (2013-2015).
  • Welsh, M.B. – ExxonMobil Consultancy “Biases in group decision making.” $3200 (2010).
  • Begg, S.H & Welsh, M.B. – ExxonMobil & Santos Ltd. “Centre for Improved Business Performance Phase III”. US$112,000 p.a. (2010-2012).
  • Begg, S.H. & Welsh, M.B. - ExxonMobil & Santos Ltd. “Centre for Improved Business Performance Phase II”. US$100,000 p.a. (2007-2009).
  • Welsh, M.B. & Begg, S.H. – Engineering, Computing & Mathematical Science Faculty Grant. “Individual differences in decision making.” $11,000 (2010).
  • Welsh, M.B. & Begg, S.H. – Engineering, Computing & Mathematical Science Faculty Grant. “Cognitive bias in the petroleum industry.” $16,000 (2008).
  • Begg, S.H. & Welsh, M.B. – ExxonMobil Consultancy. $40,000 (2007).
  • Begg, S.H., Smith, C. & Welsh, M.B. - ARC Linkage Project 0453894 “Human Decision-Making Processes and Outcomes Under Uncertainty in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry”. $42,000 p.a. (2005-2007).
  • Welsh, M.B. - Qantas Travel Grants. Competitively awarded to Early Career Researchers to provide airfares to international conferences. $3300 p.a. (2006, 2008).
  • Welsh, M.B. - ECMS Faculty Overseas Conference Leave Grants. Competitively awarded to ECMS Faculty staff to provide funds toward travel to international conferences. $2000 p.a. (2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014).

I currently teach in the following courses:

Decision and Risk Analysis (PETROENG 4027) in the Petroluem Engineering Bachelors

Human Factors for Decision Making (ENG 3305) in the B.Eng. (Defence Systems) and B.Tech. degrees

  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2014 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Decision Making for Oil and Gas Projects: Using Front End Loading and Decision Analysis More Effectively Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr David Newman
    2005 - 2007 Co-Supervisor Human Decision-Making Under Uncertainty in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time APrf Steven Mackie
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83138024
  • Email: matthew.welsh@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 83138030
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Santos Petroleum Engineering, floor 3
  • Org Unit: Petroleum Engineering

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