This research theme is concerned with thinking processes such as reasoning, problem solving, decision making, and creative thinking. Our work aims to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying these skills, their interaction with emotion processing, and their enhancement and use to assess risk and benefits, judge probability and utility, conduct more fair science about other people, categorise and classify, at the levels of the brain, the individual, the group, the organisation and society.
Enhancing thinking skills is beneficial across numerous real-world domains including health, criminal justice, defence and security, business and organisations, science policy, and education. For instance, our work enhances the individual decisions that people make about engaging in activities to promote psychological and physical well-being, the group decision-making in organisations such as juries, expert committees and healthcare providers, and enhances the provision of education and training that best promotes the optimal development of thinking skills. Impacts in these domains are achieved by dissemination and engagement with policy-makers and practitioners. For instance, our work on graphing was cited by the 6th edition of the American Psychological Association's Manual of Style and the members of the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre (FCBH) advised on the design of the UK government’s programme of research to evaluate the impact of front of pack (FOP) nutrition signpost labelling schemes on purchasing behaviour and consumer knowledge.
The ‘enhancing thinking’ theme cuts across traditional research groupings of Psychological Science drawing together on-going work in cognition, development, psychological neuroscience, forensic psychology, health psychology, social psychology, and the history of psychology.
The following sections provide further description of work targeted at understanding some of the fundamental mechanisms of thinking and the application of this understanding to enhance thinking and behaviour in different domains.
We use a combination of experiments, neuroimaging and modelling approaches to explore reasoning, creative thinking, problem solving and decision making in non-expert and expert populations. We also explore the impact of the external physical and social environment on thinking, such as the role of visual evidence on thinking and belief, the effect of the natural environment on creative thinking and the subtle influences of social groupings on scientific thinking including graphing, induction, linguistic framing and causal explanation.
Impact on Behaviour
Our research on the impact of thinking processes considers how human judgement and decision making affects decision making in the criminal justice system, how reasoning about risk influences food consumption patterns and health behaviours, how reflective and critical thinking influence managerial and leadership behaviour in organisations and how our thinking influences behaviour in relation to the environment including energy use and consumption.
- Rachel Avery
- Adrian Banks
- Alexandra Clifford
- Mandeep Dhami
- Birgitta Gatersleben
- Ilka Gleibs
- Peter Hegarty
- Erica Hepper
- Almuth McDowall
- Robert Nash
- Monique Raats
- Victoria Senior
- Paul Sowden (Theme Co-Leader),
- Harriet Tenenbaum (Theme Co-Leader)
- Naomi Winstone
- Niamh Murtagh
We meet on the second and fourth Monday from 1300-1440 in 01 AC 02.
Meeting on 28 January
We will be meeting from 12- 4pm for a sandpit day. Here is the schedule:
1200-1300 Welcome and short introduction
1300-1400 Small groups research meeting
1400-1500 Second session small group research meetings
1500-1600 Future directions
Current Funded Research
Many of the projects conducted within Surrey's Food, Consumer, Behaviour and Health Research Centre and in the Environmental Psychology research cluster also have a strong Enhancing Thinking component.