What can Embodied Cognition tell us about creativity and design? By Professor Chris Baber

In this talk, Chris will be overviewing his recent book (which you can download from here:  In summary, Chris claims that the concepts such as mental models and schema, which are much discussed in Human Factors and Cognitive Psychology, are misleading.  These concepts assume that a primary purpose of cognition is to translate the world into concepts that can be acted upon mentally in order to plan and evaluate action.  An alternative perspective is that, to use Rorty’s phrase the ‘brain is for coping not copying’, and citing Brooks, the ‘world is its own best world’. This is the basis of embodied cognition, in which thinking and acting are intertwined.  In the version that Chris prefers, this combines Gibson’s notion of affordance with dynamic systems models of human activity (as initially developed by Chemero). But much of the foundational work focused on skill in physical tasks or used fairly simple cognitive activity as its exemplar. In Chris’ work, he has been looking at creativity (which remains a hard problem for cognitive psychology) from this embodied cognition perspective.  In his talk he gives some examples of this work, and then consider how this particular theory of embodied cognition can inform design practice, particularly as a way of providing a theoretical basis for ecological interface design.

As part of a new initiative for the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems to share our work to a wider audience, we are recording presentations our researchers and PhD students have given at key international and domestic conferences.

Human Factors and Emerging Risks Symposium 2021. Presented by the team at Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems, Professor Neville Stanton and Dr Clare Dallat. May 2021

Our world is changing, and as a result, society faces several emergent personal, organisational, societal and global risks which threaten our health and wellbeing. Human Factors has a critical role to play in understanding and managing these risks. Our 2021 Human Factors symposium entitled ‘Human Factors and Emerging Risks’ includes a series of presentations from leading researchers and practitioners covering their work applying state-of-the-art Human Factors theory and methods in response to these emerging risks. Topics covered include the management of global risks (e.g. COVID-19) and natural hazards, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, control room design, accident reporting and analysis, and the development and validation of risk management methods.

Beyond the tip of the iceberg: Using systems archetypes to understand common and recurring issues in sports coaching’.  
Presented by Dr Scott McLean at the 9th World Congress on Science and Football, Melbourne, 4-7 June 2019. 
Systems thinking, a fundamental approach for understanding complexity is beginning to gain traction in sport science. Systems archetypes (SAs) describe common recurring patterns of system behaviours and have been used extensively in other domains to explain the systemic influences on behaviour. SAs look at the deeper levels of systemic structure by identifying what creates system behaviours, which supports the development of interventions to identify and resolve problem sources.
HFE and Cybercrime: Using Systems Ergonomics to Design Darknet Marketplace Interventions. Presented by Dr Ben Lane at Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Conference, 2019
Work Domain Analysis Applied to Cryptolaundering Activities. Presented by Dennis Desmond at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Conference, 2019
Near misses in future work systems: applying a multi-method systems analysis approach for determining effective work practice in near misses. Presented by Brian Thoroman at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Conference, 2019
Forecasting Emergent Risks in the Work Systems of the Future: The Final Frontier for Human Factors and Ergonomics. Presented by Dr Clare Dallat at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Conference 2019.
Humanising non human systems – HFE in Artificial General Intelligence system design. Presented by Prof Paul Salmon at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Conference, 2019
Using cognitive work analysis to explore future changes to the work of HFE practitioners. Presented by Dr Gemma Read at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Conference, 2019