It’s a small world. I work in Rockhampton at a university and last year traveled to Canberra for a Cognitive Edge workshop (which I recommend). One of the other participants was Cory Banks who, a few years ago, was a student at the university I work at. He’s obviously moved onto bigger and better things.

Our joint Cognitive Edge experience indicates some similar interests, which brings me to this post on cognition on Cory’s blog. In th epost he suggests a number of aspects of cognition that impact upon problem solving. He’s asking for help in validating and sourcing these aspects.

If you can help, please comment on his post.

My particular interest in cognition is that most information systems processes (e.g. governance, software development) are based on the assumption of rational people making object decisions drawing on all available evidence. My experience suggests that this is neither possible nor true. For me, this observation explains most of the limitations and failures associated with the design and support of information systems for e-learning (and information systems more generally).

I’ve written about aspects of this before and again.

So, as time progresses I’m hoping to add to this list in terms of references, examples and additional aspects.

Cory’s cognition list

Cory’s cognition list includes the following (a little paraphrasing)

  • We evolved as ‘first fit’ pattern matchers.
    A quote from Snowden (2005)

    This builds on naturalistic decision theory in particular the experimental and observational work of Gary Klein (1944) now validated by neuro-science, that the basis of human decision is a first fit pattern matching with past experience or extrapolated possible experience. Humans see the world both visually and conceptually as a series of spot observations and they fill in the gaps from previous experience, either personal or narrative in nature. Interviewed they will rationalize the decision in whatever is acceptable to the society to which they belong: “a tree spirit spoke to me” and “I made a rational decision having considered all the available facts” have the same relationship to reality

    I’m guessing that Kaplan’s law of instrument is somewhat related.

  • The fight or flight reaction.
  • We make assumptions.
  • We’re not analytical
    I wonder if this and most of the above points fit under “first fit pattern matchers”?
  • Failure imprints better than success.
  • Serendipitous recall (we only know what we need to know, when we need to know it).
  • We seek symmetry (attractiveness).


Snowden, D. (2005). Multi-ontology sense making: A new simplicity in decision making. Management Today, Yearbook 2005. R. Havenga.