Career decisions over the increasing lifespan

This project aims to explore the circumstances and evolving preferences and perspectives which influence career decision-making processes over the growing lifespan.

For more than a century career guidance has aimed to match people normatively to jobs early in their careers. Career development patterns were depicted as largely pre-determined, mirroring an individual’s social background and psychological development stages (Super, 1980; Levinson, 1978) and fitting a prescribed path for organisational advancement following a timetable or script. In response to this deterministic view of careers, ‘new careers’ were proposed in the 1990s in which individuals managed their own career development (Hall, 1996; Arthur, 1994).

Issues and Impact:

In the 21st century the socio-economic environment is changing rapidly making career patterns less predictable, whilst increasing longevity and declining pension provision are combining to put pressure on anticipated career trajectories and retirement financing across the developed economies. Early career decisions need to be revisited at a later stage when individual criteria may be very different according to research suggesting that career and personal preferences and influences change over time (Erikson, 1959; Kooij et al., 2011).

An alternative perspective is therefore to explore career decision-making processes at different career stages in the light of theories about decision-making processes from the disciplines of Marketing and Psychology and calls have already been made for the decision-making perspective to be taken into account in studying aspects of career development over time (Demerouti, Peeters and van der Heijden, 2012).


Career decision-making processes at two different career stages will be explored through cognitive interviews and thematic analysis of the interview transcripts supported by documentary evidence from resumes and other sources.


Arthur, M. (1994). The Boundaryless Career: A New Perspective for Organisational Inquiry. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15(4,) pp. 295-306.

Demerouti, E., Peeters, M.C.W., van der Heijden, B.I.J.M. (2012). Work–family interface from a life and career stage perspective: The role of demands and resources. International Journal of Psychology 47, pp. 241–258.

Erikson, E.H., (1959). Identity and the life cycle: Selected papers. Psychological Issues 1, pp. 1–171.

Hall, D. 1996. Protean Careers of the 21st Century. The Academy of Management Executive, 10(4), pp.  8-16.

Kooij, D. (2011). Age and work-related motives: Results of a meta-analysis. Journal of Organizational  Behavior 32(2),  pp. 197-225

Levinson, D. 1986. A Conception of Adult Development. American Psychologist, 41(1), pp. 3-13.

Super, D.E., 1980. A life-span, life-space approach to career development. Journal of Vocational Behavior 16, pp. 282–298.

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.

Planning in action: Interactivity improves planning performance.

Emma Henderson, PhD student will be presenting her poster at CogSci 207, London, on Friday, July 28th 2017 @ 1:30pm


Wednesday 26th July – Saturday 29th July, 2017.


Hilton London Metropole, 225 Edgware Rd






Planning is an essential cognitive process that is key to achieving productive time management. People often recruit external resources in the planning process, configuring a transient extended cognitive system (TECS) to support their goals. Yet planning activity is frequently studied in the absence of interactivity in laboratory conditions.

Ego-depletion refers to the idea that exerting self-control will temporarily reduce the capacity for subsequent self-control, therefore impairing executive function (Baumeister et al., 1998).

In this experiment, performance in a planning task (adapted from Miotto & Morris, 1998) was examined when participants could exploit a TECS in a high-interactivity condition, and when they could not. In addition, half the participants undertook an ego-depletion task beforehand, and half did not.

We predicted that performance would be better in the high-interactivity condition, as well as an interaction such that ego-depletion would have a greater impact on performance in the low-interactivity condition.

For further information about this event please visit Cog Sci website.

Levels of engagement with vaccination impacts risk perception and vaccination decisions in healthcare workers

Prof Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau will be chairing and leading sessions at the Fondation Mérieux Conference Center.


Monday, September 26 – Wednesday September 28, 2016


Les Pensières Fondation Mérieux Conference Center Veyrier-du-Lac – France



In this talk, I will present a new avenue for addressing vaccination hesitancy in healthcare workers (HCWs) by examining whether their motivation towards influenza vaccination predicts risk perception and vaccination decisions. We assessed engagement towards flu vaccination and vaccination advocacy using two scales: the Motivation Towards flu Vaccination (MoVac-flu) and the Motivation Towards Advocacy (MovAd) scales. These scales assess engagement on four dimensions: value, effectiveness, knowledge, and choice. Perceived risks and behaviours associated with influenza and influenza vaccination were also measured. Data were analysed using a Two-Step cluster analysis to identify sentiment clusters in 7 different samples from 6 European countries (Romania, UK, Kosovo, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Poland). Results outline different sentiment clusters across countries, which are always highly predictive of differences in risk perception and vaccination behaviours. I will discuss how can we leverage these behavioural insights to increase vaccine acceptance.

For further information about this event please visit Fondation Mérieux website.

The description-experience gap in risky choice framing

Prof Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau will be presenting at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society on Thursday 11th August 2016, 11:45


Wednesday, August 10 – Saturday August 13, 2016


Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,





The 6 page paper will be published in the proceedings.

For further information about this event please visit COGSCI 2016 website, the conference programme for Thursday 11th can be found here.

DART research featured at the European Society of Philosophy and Psychology, 2016

Dr Amélie Gourdon,  will be presenting the poster session at European Society of Philosophy and Psychology : August 10 -13th 2016


Wednesday 10th August -Saturday 13th, 2016


University of St Andrews, Scotland



Directionality of probability phrases is not determined by their linguistic head

Verbal probabilities (e.g., it is likely) are suggested to be preferred to numerical probabilities by speakers who express uncertainty (Erev & Cohen, 1990). These phrases are made of a modal adjective (e.g., it is possible) or noun (e.g., there is a possibility), sometimes a verb (e.g., it may be), with, in cases, the addition of a

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DART research featured at the International Conference on Thinking: August 2016

DART PhD research student Niyat Henok,  will be speaking at International Conference on Thinking on Saturday 6th August 2016.


Thursday 4th August -Saturday 6th, 2016


Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island



The ‘Aha!’ experience, the sudden burst of insight, has often been explained through an internal cognitive framework. However, external actions may facilitate insight. The role of transfer and material interaction in insight problem-solving was investigated using the Cheap Necklace Problem. In Experiment 1, participants completed the same problem twice after a two-week gap either using Continue reading

DART research featured at the 3rd International Conference on Interactivity, Language and Cognition

Prof Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau will be presenting a paper and hosting a workshop at the Third International Conference on Interactivity, Language and Cognition.


Wednesday, 29th  June 2016  – Friday 1st July


Kingston University, Knights Park

Presentation: Wed 29th June, 14:00, Location TK402

Framing volte-face: The description-experience gap in risky choice framing


Building upon the description-experience gap, we examined whether the classical framing effect observed with the Asian Disease problem could be reversed when people make decisions from experience. Ninety- five university students were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: Description (where the problem was presented on paper), Sampling (where the participants were allowed to sample through the outcomes presented as a pack of cards) and Interactive (where the participants were invited to spread out all possible outcomes in a sample) and made three gain-framed choices and three loss-framed choices, with two filler tasks after the first three choices. The results revealed a significant interaction effect between framing Continue reading

DART research featured at the FUR2016 Conference

Egle Butt, one of the DART research student will present new findings from her PhD work in one of the parallel sessions of the FUR2016 Conference entitled: Risk attitudes I.

When Are Severe Outcomes More Probable? – The Role of Base Rate


Tuesday, 28 June 2016 from 11:00 to 12:30 (BST)


Warwick University – Coventry, CV4 7AL


Communicating risk of uncertain outcomes (e.g., court sentence) often involves probabilities. People prefer to receive probabilistic information numerically (e.g., there is 70% chance that your case will not end in your favour), but they prefer to express it verbally (e.g., it is likely that your case will not end in your favour) (Erev & Cohen, 1990). Consequential decisions (e.g., should I take the plea bargain?) thus require an adequate interpretation of verbal probabilities. Some research suggests Continue reading

Digital Decisions – understanding behaviours to foster a safer cyber environment

In April 2016 DART research group held it’s 2nd Pracademics BarCamp for Digital Decisions. The day saw industry and academia coming together to gain insight into behaviours that can foster a safer cyber environment for all. Attendees enjoyed presentations from behavioural scientists with expertise in decision-making research and a participatory panel discussion with practitioners and stakeholders.

The workshop sought to address issues arising in relation to the human dimension of cyber security with a particular focus on risks and safety in web-connected organisations. Read on for presentations, podcasts and more.

The morning sessions saw three presentations from behavioural scientists explaining how their latest work is being applied to cyber security and cyber safety.

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