Thursday 12 June 2014

The Future Making Machine

by Magda Osman
I am Senior Lecturer in Experimental Cognitive Psychology in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London. I am interested in developing an understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in learning, decision making, and problem solving in complex dynamic environments.

Recently, I participated in a panel discussion at the LSE, hosted by the Forum of European Philosophy and the LSE Choice Group, on wise choices. There, I discussed some ideas from my new book, Future-Minded: The Psychology of Agency and Control (Palgrave 2014).

In the book I ask what drives us to do what we do. To answer this, I introduce the latest psychological research on agency, control, causality and the unconscious, and along the way challenge our folk psychological ideas on a wide range of phenomena (consciousness, subliminal priming, illusion of control, addiction). I discuss new theoretical approaches to understanding agency and control and argue that these psychological mechanisms work much like a future making machine, which shapes and plans the way an organism will act in the future.

Magda Osman
The book is designed to present readers with comprehensive insights into a range of topics with up to the minute empirical and theoretical work in psychology that will be of interest to non-academics, as well as students and researchers in the psychological sciences, economics, management, and philosophy. It takes general folk psychology ideas and examines whether they stand up to scientific scrutiny. It also takes topical issues (e.g. nudging) that have a bearing on our day to day personal lives and considers their implications from the point of view of current psychological research.

The book presents descriptions of experiments in such a way as to give the reader an insight into being a participant in a psychology experiment, and this is then followed by a deconstruction of the experiment and its empirical findings which is a unique approach to describing psychological studies. Topics range from coincidences, unconscious decision making to subliminal advertising, all of which are discussed from the point of view of a single framework.

To sum up, the book presents current research in psychology of the unconscious, causality, agency, and control and combines these research areas in a unique way to present a new understanding of how we act in view of the future.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the post Magda!

    If our readers are interested in the panel discussion Magda and I participated in at the LSE, on wise choices, a podcast is available here:


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