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Thinkering through experiments: Nurturing transdisciplinary approaches to the design of testing tools
Dr Kathryn B Francis
Raluca Briazu
Agi Haines

Posted on 24 November 2017

Kathryn, Raluca, and Agi publish article on 'scenario building'

Kathryn B. Francis, Raluca Briazu, and Agi Haines published in the new special issue of AVANT, "Collaborative Approaches to Cognitive Innovation". The article, titled "Thinkering through experiments: Nurturing transdisciplinary approaches to the design of testing tools", explores how interdisciplinary practises, and introducing considerations of the material makeup of experimental tools specifically, can generate novel insights in areas of psychological research. In the paper, Kathryn, Agi, and Raluca use moral psychology as a case study, outlining how experimenting with materials in this field resulted in fruitful outputs (which can be seen in our Scientific Reports article) but also how the practise of 'thinking through making' (rather than writing) gave the authors a novel and open platform for successful transdisciplinary collaboration.

Kathryn, Agi, and Raluca have found a shared interest in, what they call, 'scenario building'. Kathryn's research has centred on generating moral dilemmas in virtual reality, Raluca's work has focused on creating scenarios that can trigger counterfactuals, and Agi's work has explored constructing scenarios or platforms using design practises. In all of these instances of 'scenario building', the authors have been interested in motivating responses and questioning models of the world (whether they are moral, imagined, or speculative). This paper unites their shared interests and also their disciplinary fields, which span psychology, philosophy, and design.

Kathryn completed her PhD in CogNovo working on project #19 "Moral cognition: An interdisciplinary investigation of judgment versus action" which investigated the relationship between moral action and judgment using state-of-the-art technologies. Kathryn is now working at the University of Reading as a postdoctoral fellow in an interdisciplinary project exploring the psychology of philosophical thought experiments.

Raluca completed her PhD in CogNovo working on project #18 "The role of counterfactual thinking in deception" where she investigated the link between counterfactual thinking i.e. the imagination of alternatives to reality, and deception. Raluca also examined the mechanisms that underlie this relationship, utilising experimental approaches and clinical investigations to determine how these processes might be associated. Raluca is now working at the University of Warwick as a postdoctoral fellow in an interdisciplinary project exploring deception in mass-marketing fraud.

Agi is a CogNovo fellow working on project #24 "Ideas exchange: Understanding the human object" in which she investigates ways to promote the exchange of ideas between scientists, artists, and stakeholders while maintaining the depth and nuances that facilitate the identification and prioritisation of new research topics. Agi examines how speculative design practice might be used as a platform to question the rhetoric of modelling within biomedical and healthcare sciences.


  • Francis, K. B., Haines, A., & Briazu, R. A. (2017). Thinkering through experiments: Nurturing transdisciplinary approaches to the design of testing tools. [Special Issue] AVANT, 8, 107–115. https://doi.org/10.26913/80s02017.0111.0011