As a matter of fact...

The series that looks at current events through the lens of psychology - Michael Blastland explores the quirky ways in which we humans think, behave and make decisions.

In this first episode of a new series, we look at facts and the EU referendum. We are bombarded with statistics and projections about how the UK will benefit or suffer, depending on whether or not we are in or out of Europe. And we, the public, clamour for even more. How do we respond and use these facts, if at all, to formulate a reasoned opinion?

To what extent do we make a judgment first and then collect the evidence afterwards? Do we simply seek out facts that confirm our original belief - are we simply self-justification machines? As we near ballot time, the Human Zoo team investigate how emotions - such as fear and anger - may shape the way we think and act.

Michael Blastland is joined by resident psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Contributors this week include Professor Jennifer Lerner, Harvard University; Historian Lucy Robinson, University of Sussex; Professor Peter Johansson, Lund University, Sweden; and James Fisher, Cut-Throat London.

Producer: Dom Byrne
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.