Abstract Dr Magda Osman 24th January 2013
Are we good at being in control?
As complexity in our everyday environment increases (e.g., advances in mobile phones, computers, automated driving systems, medical monitoring systems), how do we adapt and react to the changing demands placed on us? In dynamic decision making (DDM) problems, the environment changes over time due to previous decisions made and/or factors outside the control of the decision-maker. To maximize his/her reward, an agent needs to control a complex dynamic system. This often involves planning in the face of uncertainty about how decisions change the state of the system and the rewards that can be obtained. Thus, DDM refers to a process by which an agent selects a course of action in a manner that achieves or maintains a desired state in a dynamic environment.
The question that is examined in the presentation is: What are the processes/mechanisms that enable us to adapt to changes in uncertain environments in terms of the information we process, the decisions we make, and the intrinsic and extrinsic goals that we pursue?
About our speaker
DR MAGDA OSMAN , SENIOR LECTURER IN EXPERIMENTAL COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
My main research interests concern understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in learning, decision making, and problem solving in complex dynamic environments (e.g., biological (fitness), economic (stock market), ecological (rainforest), industrial (nuclear power plant), mechanical (automobile), management (company), and safety critical (automated-pilot) systems).
Broadly, what these situations share in common is that a number of elements will vary from one point in time to another, not always reliably so, and not always as a direct consequence of the actions that we choose to make. In a recent review, I discuss the characteristics that make these situations complex, along with the psychological armoury we have to respond to the high degree of uncertainty that they generate (Osman, 2010).
By examining a number of recent advances in cognitive psychology, cognitive science, neuropsychology, engineering and human factors research, much of my recent work (Osman, et al, 2008; Osman, 2010; Osman, forthcoming) investigates the general principles these disciplines share in understanding how we control uncertainty.
Other research interests include examining whether there are purported functionally dissociable mechanisms between conscious and unconscious reasoning/learning/decision making processes (Osman, 2004; Osman & Stavy, 2006), the relationship between deception and other cognitive controlled processes (Osman, Fitzpatrick & Channon, 2009), and the role of probability judgments and causal reasoning in our experiences of coincidences.
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