Systemic Cognition Symposium 2017, Kingston

DART members will be presenting at the Systemic Cognition Symposium 2017, Kingston on Tuesday, July 25th 2017 from 9:00am


Tuesday 25th July, 2017


Kingston University, Kingston Hill Campus London

Dr Amélie Gourdon–Kanhukamwe will be presenting at 10:00am



An increasing number of research papers have proposed, theoretically and/or with the support of empirical evidence, that social issues can be addressed through so-called nudges. In public policy circles, practice has moved towards the use of nudges on a large scale, for example seeing the implementation of pension autoenrolment throughout the UK. With the development of “Nudge units” in the UK and the US, there has however also been a number of discussions about the ethical implications of such policies, which some have pointed to reduce freedom of choice or empowerment. Yet very little empirical research has been conducted on the acceptability of nudges. This project therefore aims to build on the current theoretical and empirical literature regarding the acceptability of being nudged, by testing empirically some of the boundary conditions proposed in the philosophical and policy literature, as well as using experimental situations recreating the experience of being nudged, rather than hypothetical scenarios. As a first step of this study, we first attempted to replicate findings from Felsen, Castelo and Reiner (2013), which suggested that people prefer nudges that are overt rather than covert. In other words, they prefer type 2 nudges, which aim to inform and educate to type 2 nudges, which aim to influence the decision directly. However, Felsen et al. suggested that this did not apply to all domains, with people having more negative reactions to nudges aiming to increase productivity. Yet, our own analyses of their open data suggested analytical choices which may have influenced the outcome of the study. We therefore replicated their 2×5 design, with each participant reporting their attitude towards nudges in five different domains (healthy eating, exercising, investing, responsible purchasing, and productivity), after having read about either overt or covert nudges. The results of this replication are discussed, as well as implications for the next steps of the study.

Niyat Henok will be presenting at 11:15am



The origin of insight is commonly explained in terms of the restructuring of a mental representation. The distributed cognition framework, however, assumes a more complex coupling between internal cognitive processes and a physical presentation of the problem in the reasoner’s environment. The present paper investigated how the level of interactivity influenced solution rate in the Cheap Necklace Problem, and focused primarily on the degree to which an incubation effect would be more clearly manifested in a high interactivity environment when unsuccessful participants returned to the problem after a two-week gap. Participants attempted to solve the problem in a low interactivity condition with pen and paper or in a high interactivity condition with a physical model of the problem and were invited to manipulate the constituent elements to solve it. Performance, measured by successful completion of the task, was substantially better in a task environment that fostered a higher degree of interactivity with a physical model of the problem at Time 1. There was evidence of an incubation effect as participants significantly improved in performance after the two-week gap, particularly in the high interactivity condition. Experiment 2 offered a stringier test of the prediction that incubation would be stronger in a high interactivity condition: The problem presentation changed after the two week gap (low interactivity to high interactivity or high interactivity to low interactivity). The increased level of interactivity facilitated discovery at Time 2 among those who had failed to solve the problem at Time 1 in the low interactivity condition. These findings underscore the importance of investigating incubation as a function of the problem solving environment.

Prof. Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau will be presenting at 16:15



The Systemic Thinking Model of Cognition (SysTM, Vallée-Tourangeau & Vallée- Tourangeau, 2017) aims to explain how cognition emerges from thinking as well as acting when an agent engages in a cognitive task over a relatively short period of time. A key assumption of SysTM is that cognitive performance is realised through a succession of deductive and inductive processing loops. Deductive loops involve short mental simulations of possible immediate actions before an agent elects to act. Inductive loops involve unplanned actions potentially resulting in serendipitous discoveries or insights and which are driven by the direct perception of affordances or action possibilities in an agent’s immediate environment. Since most psychological studies offer barren affordance landscapes (featuring, at best, very limited possibilities to actively manipulate and tinker with information while thinking), we still know little of the role inductive processing loops may play in higher cognition. In this talk, I will discuss what a systemic study of thinking and deciding may involve, with a particular focus on the role played by environmental affordances in generating new understanding while agents engage in knowledge work

For further information about this event please visit website.

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