Yasmina Okan – Improving communications about health risks and cervical cancer screening #DARTseminar

Improving communications about health risks and cervical cancer screening

On Friday 25th January 2019 13:00 – 14:00 in KHBS 1006, Associate Prof. Yasmina Okan from Leeds University Business School, will be presenting current research from the field: Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making. The talk will concern improving communications about health risks and cervical cancer screening. If you wish to attend please register your attendance below, places are limited.


Population screening aims to reduce the risk of developing a given disease or detect early stages of the disease, enabling earlier treatment. Yet, screening can also be associated with risks such as overdiagnosis and overtreatment. To make informed decisions about screening participation, invitees need information on both benefits and risks of screening, which is often provided through written materials (e.g., leaflets and web-based materials). However, quantitative information in screening communications can be challenging, even among educated audiences. Communications that are not well understood can lead to undue concern and undermine informed uptake. I will present the results of a project funded by Cancer Research UK, which focuses on improving communications about cervical cancer screening. Cervical screening can reduce both cervical cancer incidence and mortality, and is hence offered by the NHS to women across the UK. However, it is also associated with potential risks such as treatment of abnormal cells that would have cleared up on their own. In a series of studies, we examined (1) how cervical screening information is communicated in UK websites, (2) how cervical screening invitees interpret the NHS leaflet designed to support screening decisions, and (3) what is the prevalence of misunderstandings. Studies included a systematic analysis of website content and format, cognitive think-aloud interviews, and an online survey involving respondents across England with varying demographic characteristics. will discuss the implications of the findings for the design of information about cancer screening and decision support. I will also discuss related ongoing work examining how to improve communications about different health risks using simple graphical displays (e.g., icon arrays).

Please register your attendance here

Yasmina Okan is a Cancer Research Fellow / Associate Professor in Behavioural Decision Making and Management at Leeds Business School. Prior to joining Leeds Univerisity in October 2013, Yasmina worked at various international locations, including the University of Granada (where she completed her PhD), the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Germany) and Michigan Technological University (US), where she was an international visiting researcher.

Her research interests and expertise include designing graphical displays for risk communication, contextual and emotional factors in moral judgment and decision making.

If you wish to find more out about Yasmina, visit her institutional profile: https://business.leeds.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-directory/profile/yasmina-okan/

Here is also a short video of Yasmina discussing her research topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ_oHf3YGNM

We hope to see you there!

Exploring feelings of insight – New #DARTseminar

On Monday 5th of November, PhD Candidate Margaret Webb, from the University of Melbourne, presented a research seminar entitled: Exploring the cognitive processes underlying, individual differences associated with, and methods used to investigate, feelings of insight.

The seminar was hosted by Prof Frédéric Vallée-Tourangeau from 1-2pm in room JG2004 (Penrhyn road campus, KT1 2EE).


As scientists, we are motivated by moments in which we feel we have a sudden insight into something novel and important. These moments can seem independent from our incremental science and are often accompanied by an exclamation, the so-called aha experience. Moments of insight have a profound effect on motivation, learning, and memory, and have long been investigated using so-called insight problems. However, the long history investigating accuracy in insight problem solving does not extend to measurements of feeling insightful. We examine whether the individual differences underlying problem solving extend to feelings of insight. We focus on measures of divergent and convergent thinking (respectively, the ability to produce diverse possibilities, and the ability to deduce the most fitting solution from a range) and on unusual experiences (a sub-scale of schizotypy which includes the tendency to perceive patterns in noise). Across five studies, we (1) explore the current methods of investigating individual differences underlying insight, (2) outline some pertinent issues regarding the assumptions and techniques in the current state of the art, and (3) apply our adapted methodologies. Ultimately, we found that intelligence and convergent thinking are important for achieving the solution of insight problems but that divergent thinking, particularly originality of thought, is more important for feeling insightful.

What makes intergenerational relations successful at work? #DARTseminar

On Wednesday 3rd of October, Dr Ulrike Fasbender, currently a research fellow at Birbeck, University of London, gave a very interesting talk on the key factors involved in making intergenerational relations successful at work.


The number of older workers is increasing dramatically due to demographic changes, and organizations need to attract and utilize the human resources offered by aging workforces.

In this study, we examine how intergroup contact can facilitate older workers’ coworker-support behavior. Specifically, we combine socio-emotional selectivity theory with a social mindfulness lens to predict that high quality exposure to younger coworkers motivates older workers to engage in perspective taking and empathic concern, which, in turn, facilitates their provision of instrumental and emotional support toward younger coworkers. In addition, we test the applicability of socio-emotional selectivity theory in later adulthood by examining how older workers’ age might shape the effect of their contact quality with younger workers on their perspective taking and empathic concern. We tested our hypotheses using time-lagged data from a sample of 756 older workers. Results showed that both perspective taking and empathic concern mediated the positive effect of contact quality on support behaviors toward younger coworkers. In addition, older age was associated with a stronger effect of contact quality on empathic concern. Overall, we extend the existing literature by focusing on the role of intergroup contact in influencing older workers’ behavior toward younger coworkers, thereby moving beyond previous research that exclusively focused on younger workers’ attitudes toward older workers.

Speaker’s bio

Dr. Ulrike Fasbender
Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Germany
Visiting Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London

Since 2017, I am working as Assistant Professor for the Work and Organizational Psychology team at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessenin Germany. Also, I am Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London in the United Kingdom. My research interest is about late career development, transition to retirement, diversity management, and intergenerational relationships at work. I have published my research in various journals, such as Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Journal of Vocational Behavior, or Journal of Managerial Psychology.

I have recently received funding from the British Academy to conduct research on intergenerational contact and cooperation at work while visiting Birkbeck, University of London (Award Reference: VF1\100674). Specifically, I am interested in the ways that older and younger colleagues operate at work to understand: What Makes Intergenerational Relations Successful at Work?

Behavioural Science at Work: An introduction

On Friday 5th October, Prof Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau (Head of the Decisions, Attitudes, Risk and Thinking research group) and Mr Samuel Keightly (Behaviourial Science Lab manager) will lead a workshop introducing the behavioural science research approach and its methods.

Behavioural science is the branch of psychology which explores people’s cognitive processes and the interaction between cognition and behaviours. Behavioural scientists are interested in people’s thoughts, their cognitive and behavioural performance. The main research strategy of behavioural science is the so-called experimental research strategy as behavioural scientists seek to establish and demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships between variables. To accomplish this goal, researchers conduct randomised experiments where they manipulate one or more variables and evaluate the effect of their manipulation on behavioural and cognitive measures. In this workshop you will be introduced to the experimental research strategy in more details and how it may be applied to work and business psychology issues. Its application will be illustrated with various behavioural measures (risk-taking, reaction times, video recording, eye-tracking) and research topics (risk taking, cognitive performance, and problem-solving). The session will conclude with a discussion of the advantages and limitations of behavioural science and the experimental research strategy approach as well as suggestions for those interested in learning more about this approach. As part of the session, you will be given the opportunity to go on a guided visit the Behavioural Science Lab and take part in a clerical computer performance study.

To register your interest, please RSVP on the link below:


Public Acceptability of Behaviour Change Interventions: A guest lecture by Prof. Theresa Marteau from University of Cambridge

On Wednesday 25th April, Prof. Theresa Marteau from University of Cambridge, presented current research from the field of psychological and behavioural sciences, in particular, public acceptability of behaviour change interventions.

Title: Public Acceptability of Behaviour Change Interventions

Abstract: Public support of an intervention is a critical consideration for policy-makers considering implementing the intervention through policy. Support for large-scale interventions to change behaviour in health and other contexts is highest for information-based interventions such as public awareness campaigns (of limited effectiveness) and lowest for price-based interventions such as taxes (of higher effectiveness). When a proposed intervention is unpopular, yet has the potential to have an impact – be it on public health, the environment, or other domain – policy makers may seek to increase public support. This paper reviews the evidence for three potentially mutable predictors of public acceptability: perceived effectiveness, perceived fairness and lay theories of human behaviour.

About the speaker

Professor Theresa Marteau is Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit in the Clinical School at the University of Cambridge, and Director of Studies in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge. She studied psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) and the University of Oxford.

Her research interests include:

  1. development and evaluation of interventions to change behaviour (principally diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol consumption) to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, with a particular focus on targeting non-conscious processes
  2. risk perception and communication particular of biomarker-derived risks, and their weak links with behaviour change
  3. acceptability to publics and policy makers of government intervention to change behaviour.

She is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Social Sciences. In 2017 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her contribution to Public Health.

Cheap talk and evidence: an experiment: Seminar by Valeria Burdea from University of Nottingham

On Wednesday, 10th January DART hosted PhD Candidate Valeria Burdea from University of Nottingham who presented her current research.

Title: Cheap talk and evidence: an experiment.

Abstract: We investigate the effect of cheap talk on individuals’ perception of partially-informative evidence. To do so we use a sender – receiver game with asymmetric information and bi-dimensional states that can be either good or bad. In this setting, the informed party (the sender) must disclose one of the two state-dimensions with the goal of convincing the receiver that the state is good. We vary whether in addition to the disclosure action, the sender has the possibility to communicate with the receiver by sending her a message regarding the values of the two dimensions. From a normative perspective, in the presence of hard evidence cheap talk should have no bearing on receiver’s decisions. Our results show that cheap talk messages prime more mistakes in the appraisal of the evidence provided, leading to a negative impact on receiver’s payoff. In addition, we find that this effect is mitigated by increasing receiver’s control over her information space. These findings have implications for the design of information distribution processes in persuasion environments such as political campaigns or buyer-seller interactions.

Development and application of behaviour change interventions within organisations: Seminar by Dr Rachel Carey, UCL London

On Wednesday, 6th December we welcomed Dr Racel Carey, UCL London to present research from UCL Centre for Behaviour Change. The focus was on using the Behaviour Change Wheel as a framework for intervention design, as well as discussing the ‘real-world’ applications of this approach.

Title: The Behaviour Change Wheel: a framework for intervention design with ‘real-world’ applications.

Abstract: Behaviour change is central to many global societal challenges. Behaviour change interventions have the potential to address these challenges, but many are developed without a solid theoretical basis, meaning that the accumulation of knowledge about ‘what works’ has been relatively slow. The science of behaviour change applies theory, methods, and evidence about behaviour change to the development of interventions that can be applied to a wide range of areas, including health and healthcare, business, policy, cybersecurity, transport, and the environment. This talk will explore how theories and techniques from behaviour change science, including the Behaviour Change Wheel framework, can be applied in practice – both within and outside of research settings.

Advances in Eye-tracking Research for Behavioural Decision-Making: Seminar by Prof. Jacob Lund Orquin

On Wednesday, 15th November @ 11am – 12, DART will be welcoming Prof. Jacob Lund Orquin to present his current research in the field of eye tracking in behavioural decision making. If you wish to attend please register your attendance on Eventbrite, places are limited.

Title: Implicit Statistical Learning in Real-World Environments Leads to Ecologically Rational Decision Making

Abstract: Ecological rationality results from matching decision strategies to appropriate environmental structures, but how does the matching happen? We propose that people learn the statistical structure of the environment through observation and use this learned structure to guide ecologically rational behavior. We tested this hypothesis in the context of organic foods. In Study 1, we found that products from healthful food categories are more likely to be organic than products from nonhealthful food categories. In Study 2, we found that consumers’ perceptions of the healthfulness and prevalence of organic products in many food categories are accurate. Finally, in Study 3, we found that people perceive organic products as more healthful than nonorganic products when the statistical structure justifies this inference. Our findings suggest that people believe organic foods are more healthful than nonorganic foods and use an organic-food cue to guide their behavior because organic foods are, on average, 30% more healthful.

Seminar Series: Behavioural economics, Dr Karen Hauge

On Wednesday, 4th October @ 11am – 12, DART will be welcoming Dr. Karen Hauge to present her current research in the field of behavioural economics. Below is a snippet of her presentation, if you wish to attend please contact us directly for further details, places are limited.

Title: The Good, the Bad, and the Conditional: Sorting and Dynamics in a Public Good Game with Endogenous Group Formation

Authors: Kjell Arne Brekke, Karen Evelyn Hauge, Jo Thori Lind and Karine Nyborg

Abstract: Previous research has shown that beneficiary commitments can serve as a screening device in public good games (Brekke et al., 2011), enabling cooperative subjects to endogenously self-select into groups which manage to sustain cooperation over time.

We present a public good game experiment in which subjects choose between two group types: in blue groups, subjects receive a fixed extra payoff; in red groups, this extra payoff is donated, instead, to the Red Cross. We use the strategy method to elicit the conditional contribution preferences of the subjects; altruist, free-rider, conditional cooperator or other. In the current paper we investigate further why red groups manage to sustain cooperation over time while blue groups do not. Is it because red groups start off at higher contribution levels, or do subjects who select into blue groups condition their contributions more strongly on the behavior of other group members than subjects who select into red groups?

The preliminary results show that subjects who later choose red groups contribute higher amounts in the first one shot public good game in comparison to subjects who later choose blue groups. We find (as in Fischbacher et al. (2001)) that a small group of subjects can be classified as altruists and a small group as free-riders, while the largest group are conditional cooperators. While the altruists select into red groups, the free-riders select into blue groups. The most part of the selection is driven by a small number of subjects, but this selection is important for the dynamics of play.


BREKKE, K. A., HAUGE, K. E., LIND, J. T. & NYBORG, K. 2011. Playing with the good guys. A public good game with endogenous group formation. Journal of Public Economics, 95, 1111-1118.

FISCHBACHER, U., G\”{A}CHTER, S. & FEHR, E. 2001. Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment. Economic Letters, 71, 397-404.


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.