UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


London Judgment and Decision Making seminars

Originally established at UCL in the early 1970’s as a weekly Cognition and Reasoning seminar, it later became an intercollegiate seminar on Language and Cognition in the early 1980’s. The name LJDM was finally coined in 1990, and the group has been running seminars under this name ever since, with lecturers and researchers in and around the UK meeting on a regular basis to discuss judgment and decision making, judgments of likelihood, reasoning, thinking, problem solving, forecasting, risk perception and communication, and other related topics.

Unless specified otherwise, all seminars take place on Wednesdays at 5pm, in Room 313 at the Psychology Department, University College London (on the corner of Bedford Way, Gordon Square and Torrington Place, London WC1H 0AP). Map.

To get updates on the current schedule and weekly reminders of the seminars, please subscribe to the Risk and Decision mailing list. All are welcome to attend.

Titles, abstracts and recordings (where available) of previous seminars can be found here. 

The LJDM seminar series is supported by

University College London
City, University of London
Kings College London

If you would like to present your research to the group or to suggest a speaker, please contact the organizers:

Academic Year 2022/23

Wednesday 16th November 2022

Prof. John Thogersen (University of Aarhus) 

Positive, negative, or graded sustainability labelling? Which is most effective at promoting a shift towards more sustainable product choices?

Sustainability labels convey information about different product attributes, such as its environmental impact, lifespan, or ethical performance. The labelling can be either positive (only identifying the most sustainable products available on the market), negative (only identifying the least sustainable products available on the market), or graded (comparing the sustainable performance of a product with that of all other products on the market). The goal of this research was to assess the relative performance of these three labelling approaches in terms of influencing product choices. A nationally representative sample of 1,243 consumers from Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic participated in an online discrete choice experiment with real incentives. Compared with positive and negative labels, graded labels were most effective in guiding consumers towards more sustainable product choices. These findings support policy interventions that convey product sustainability with graded labels. This research was done in collaboration with researchers in the EU Commission’s Joint Research Center.

Please click here for seminar. 

Talk recording: https://youtu.be/uJxwjx1jL2g

Wednesday 23rd November 2022 

Kerem Oktar (Princeton University) 

How Beliefs Persist When Millions Disagree

People have the remarkable ability to remain steadfast in their beliefs in the face of societal disagreement. For example, most people remain unmoved in their views regarding the ethics of abortion, the existence of God, or the reality of anthropogenic climate change despite knowing that millions disagree. This has important consequences (e.g., societal polarization), yet its psychological underpinnings are poorly understood. In this talk, I will discuss three experiments that lead to the following conclusions: First, participants are typically aware of societal disagreement about controversial issues, yet overwhelmingly (~90%) do not question their views if asked to reflect on this disagreement. Second, we find that participants rely on distinct ‘paths’ to persist in their views across domains (Experiments 1-2), and that these paths have causal and interdependent effects on the tendency to remain anchored to one’s views (Experiment 3). We also find evidence that questioning one’s view is most likely to occur when all paths to persistence are blocked—which may help explain the ubiquity of persistent societal disagreement.

Please click here for seminar. 

Talk Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMoAxO9djNk

Wednesday 30th November 2022 

Dr. Laura Corbit (University of Toronto) 

Understanding the balance between goal-directed and habitual control

A substantial number of studies now show that experiences such as diet or exposure to drugs promote habitual behavioural control. The shift from flexible to habitual control could be the result of direct effects on the habit system which strengthen stimulus-response learning. Alternatively, the effects could be indirect, acting instead to undermine function of, and control by the goal-directed system thus allowing early control by the habit system. These possibilities are difficult to differentiate with either behavioural or neural tools alone. I will present data from recent studies that are beginning to reveal specific effects of drug or diet exposure on decision-making capacity and behavioral control. Distinguishing between excessive habitual control and weakened goal-directed control will be important for improving behvaioural control following exposure to drugs, certain diets or stress. 

Please click here for seminar. 

Talk Recording: https://youtu.be/ecaCQlDZSPg

Wednesday 7th December 2022

Prof. Dr. Andreas ­Voß (University of Heidelberg) 

A Lévy-Flight Model of Decision Making

Most cognitive models of decision-making assume a continuous process of evidence accumulation. Typically, evidence accumulation is considered noisy, i.e. it is determined by a combination of stimulus information and random noise. The combination of a constant systematic rate of information accumulation and Gaussian noise is described mathematically by a diffusion process, which gives the name to the most influential model of this class, the diffusion model. One problem with the standard diffusion model is that additional processes must be included to explain fast errors typically seen in rapid perceptual decisions. For example, in the diffusion model, we need to introduce the assumption of trial-to-trial variations in the starting point position to explain fast errors. In contrast to this approach, we hypothesise that the process of evidence accumulation itself causes fast errors (e.g., fast guessing). In our model, guessing-like processes in evidence accumulation are reflected by large sudden changes ("jumps") in evidence accumulation. This can be explained mathematically by replacing Gaussian noise with a heavy-tailed noise distribution (e.g., the Cauchy distribution), thereby replacing the diffusion process with a Lévy flight. In a series of experiments, we demonstrate the superior ability of the Lévy-flight model to explain behavioural data from different experimental paradigms.

Please click here for seminar. 

Wednesday 14th December 2022 

Speaker: TBC

Christmas Break

Wednesday 11th January 2023 

Prof. Dr. Joachim ­Funke (University of Heidelberg) 

50 years research on complex problem solving: What are the results? 


Please click here for seminar. 

The slides have been provided by the speaker available for distribution and can be found here.

 Wednesday 18th January 2023 

Prof. Julia Nafziger (University of Aarhus) 

Nudging in complex environments (joint with Dan Monster and Alexander Koch)

We study the effects of reminder nudges using a novel experimental approach based on a computer game that aims to promote awareness of food safety and foster risk-reducing behavior among consumers. The game exposes participants to a complex environment in which they have to pay attention to and perform multiple, different kinds of food safety and cooking actions within a short period of time. The set-up allows us to test the effect of reminders not only on the reminded, but also on non-reminded actions and thus to observe whether nudges have (positive or negative) spillovers. Further, it allows us to test the effects of multiple vs. single reminders. We test the effects both in the short and long run, i.e., after the withdrawal of the reminder. We observe that both single and multiple nudges have positive effects in the short run -- multiple reminders more so than single reminders: while they lead to crowding-out of non-reminded actions, the positive effect on reminded action dominates. Yet, after withdrawal of the reminders, the negative spillover effect prevails, while the positive effect becomes very small so that, overall, reminders have no effect. 

Talk Recording: https://youtu.be/fKEkUkwhG9I

Wednesday 25th January 2023

Speaker: TBC

Wednesday 1st February 2023 

Speaker: TBC

Wednesday 8th February 2023 

Speaker: TBC


Reading Week 

Wednesday 22nd February 2023 

Speaker: TBC

Wednesday 1st March 2023 

Speaker: TBC

Wednesday 8th March 2023 

Speaker: TBC

Wednesday 15th March 2023 

Dr. Brandi S. Morris (University of Aarhus) 

Title and Abstract: TBC  

Wednesday 22nd March 2023

Speaker: TBC


Easter Break

Wednesday 26th April 2023


Speaker: TBC 


Wednesday 3rd May 2023 


Speaker: TBC 


Wednesday 10th May 2023 

Dr. Patricia Sanchez (University of Toronto) 

Title and Abstract: TBC 

Please click here for seminar. 

Wednesday 17th May 2023 

Speaker: TBC 

Wednesday 24th May 2023 

Speaker: TBC  

Wednesday 24th May 2023 

Speaker: TBC  

Wednesday 31st May 2023 

Speaker: TBC 

Wednesday 7th June 2023 

Speaker: TBC 

Summer Break :)