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.

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:
- Ayse Ozsari-Sahin (ayse.sahin.18@ucl.ac.uk)
- Sahana Shankar (sahana.shankar@kcl.ac.uk)

Academic Year 2021/22

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

Dr Mohsen Mosleh (University of Exeter)

Understanding and reducing the spread of misinformation online

There has been a great deal of concern about the negative impacts of online misinformation on democracy and society. In this talk, I provide an overview of my research on understanding why people share misinformation and how to combat spread of low-quality content online. I first focus on the why question and describe a hybrid lab-field study in which Twitter users (N=1,901) complete a cognitive survey. I show that people who rely on intuitive gut responses over analytical thinking share lower quality content. I then build on this observation with a Twitter field experiment (N= 5,379) that uses a subtle intervention to nudge people to think about accuracy. I show the intervention significantly improve the quality of the news sources they shared subsequently. Finally, I will talk about a follow-up study where we directly correct Twitter users (N=2000) who shared misinformation by replying to their false tweets by including a link to the fact-checking website. We show that unlike the subtle accuracy nudge, the direct public correction results in users sharing lower quality content. Our experimental design translates directly into an intervention that social media companies could deploy to fight misinformation online.


Wednesday 10th of November 2021

Reading week

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Professor Ken Manktelow (University of Wolverhampton)

Peter Wason: Beyond reasoning

Peter Wason spent his entire career as a psychologist, from undergraduate to emeritus, at UCL. His research was characterised by extraordinary creativity: he was the principal instigator of a whole field, the psychology of reasoning, and introduced many of the methods, and some of the important theoretical ideas, that remain current to this day. Two of the most important figures in the field were students of his at UCL, as were many others. He also made important contributions to psycholinguistics, pure and applied, and to the study of writing. In this talk, based on a recently published biography, we shall look at aspects of his background and personal history that help explain how he did what he did.


Wednesday 24th of November 2021

 Dr Claire Heard (LSE)

Title: Acting pro-socially? Factors influencing the decision to provide first aid during single and mass casualty events.

There is a growing appreciation of the potential role the public could play in responding to mass casualty events (e.g. the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing). However, most research on people’s willingness to provide first aid has focussed on smaller scale emergency scenarios. Across 15 interviews with first-aid practitioner and 10 public focus groups (n=54), we investigated the factors which affect people’s decisions to offer first aid in response to three scenarios: a cardiac arrest, an acid-attack, and a mass-casualty event. Through thematic analysis, we identify barriers/facilitators to helping and differences between scenarios including beliefs about situational ambiguity and danger (uncertainty and risk), treatment urgency, first-aid skill simplicity, the role of other bystanders, and differing emotional responses to the emergency.

Please click here for the seminar.


Wednesday 1st of December 2021

Dr Simon Stephan (University of Göttingen)

The interplay between covariation, temporal, and mechanism information in singular causation judgements

Singular causation queries (e.g., “Did Mary’s taking contraceptives cause her thrombosis?”) are ubiquitous in everyday life and crucial in many professional disciplines, such as medicine or law. Knowledge about general causal regularities is necessary but not sufficient for establishing a singular causation relation, because it is possible that co-occurrences consistent with known regularities are in an individual case still just coincidental. Thus, further cues are helpful to establish a singular causation relation. One such cue is information about the temporal relation between the possible causes of an effect. A further cue that I will focus on in my talk is information about causal mechanisms. What has been missing in the literature on causal reasoning is a formal model of singular causation judgments explaining why mechanism is helpful in the assessment of singular causation. In my talk, I will present a computational model that we proposed that integrates covariation, temporal, and mechanism information to predict whether two co-occurred events were causally connected instead of a mere coincidence. The model not only provides a formal explanation of why mechanism information is helpful in the assessment of singular causation relations, but also can be used to identify factors that restrict the utility of mechanism information. The results of several experiments we conducted suggest that most reasoners systematically use mechanism information, largely in accordance with our formal model. However, we also find that some people seem to rely on simpler, computationally less demanding reasoning strategies. Our studies also suggest that reasoners also understand when mechanism information is less helpful.

Please click here for the seminar.


Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Dr Christopfer Bryan (University of Texas)

Values alignment: An alternative to pragmatic appeals for behavior change

Abstract: The science of behavior change has become an increasingly important frontier in the quest to improve human health and well-being. Recognition of this is now widespread in the scientific community, but the science of behavior change—the development of effective, empirically validated techniques for producing lasting, internalized motivation for the behavioral choices people know they should be making but usually do not—is still badly underdeveloped. Most public appeals to engage in such “should” behaviors (e.g., exercise, eat healthily, save for the future, conserve energy) focus on the pragmatic reasons why those behaviors are important. The problem with this approach is that such pragmatic appeals lack the motivational immediacy to drive the needed changes in behavior for reasons psychologists have understood for decades. Here, I suggest an alternative approach: reframing should behaviors in terms that emphasize how those behaviors serve the values that are already immediate and important to the people whose behavior one seeks to change. I demonstrate the potential of this approach using the example of an intervention to get adolescents to adopt healthier dietary habits by framing manipulative food marketing as a subversion of important adolescent values, including autonomy from adult control and social justice.

Please click here for the seminar.


Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Speaker: TBC


Christmas Break


Wednesday 19th of January 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 26th of January 2022

Dr Ganga Shreedhar (LSE)

Title: TBC


Wednesday 2nd of February 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 9th of February 2022

Dr Dawn Holford (University of Bristol)

Title: The role of pragmatic inferences in communication and decision-making


Wednesday 16th of February 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 9th of March 2022

Dr Rael Dawtry (University of Essex)

Title: TBC


Wednesday 16th of March 2022

Dr Nura Cabral Sidarus (Royal Holloway)

Title: TBC


Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

Dr Jonathan Rolison (University of Essex)

Title: TBC


Spring Break


Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Dr Amelie Gourdon-Kanhukamwe (King’s College London)

Title: TBC


Wednesday 11th of May 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 18th of May 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Speaker: TBC


Wednesday 8th of June 2022

Speaker: TBC