Colin Wastell

Associate Professor

  • 332 Citations
  • 9 h-Index
1991 …2018
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Personal profile

Research interests

My research interests span two interrelated areas. The first is the structure and function of the human mind. I approach this area from the viewpoint of modularity theory. This approach is best represented in my 2014 paper "An emergence solution to the reasoning dual processes interaction problem" and subsequent 2018 Commentary reply. In my view the mind as a functioning entity is made up of modules which interact in an emergent manner to produce the wonderful displays of human reasoning, problem solving and creativity we see when humans are thinking at their best.

In a related vein I apply my modularity approach to the psychology of belief in the supernatural. In what has been termed the standard model, belief in the supernatural is posited to be the result of the coopting of existing modules into domains of activity which are not their proper sphere of action. As such humans believe in the existence of supernatural entities which are creations of their own sub-conscious thinking predispositions.

Biography

I have been involved in Psychological research for 30 years. I completed my PhD in vicarious trauma in 1993. I joined the Macquarie Psychology Department as foundation Director of the Counselling Psychology program in 1994. I joined the Royal Australian Navy Intelligence Reserve branch in 1997 [promoted LCDR 2004] and have served in N2, ASTJIC [1999-2001] and JOICAUST. In 2003 I was Research Leader of the Information Warfare Studies Group, in DSTO’s Information Networks Division. Since 2000 I have been interested in, and am currently conducting empirical research into, human reasoning and decision-making. I became interested in this as a result of my work on psychological trauma and in particular in examining its impact on human decision-making. I have been involved in research examining the utilisation of different reasoning processes in intelligence analysis and risk perception. I have presented at the Society for Judgment and Decision Making Conference in Toronto, Canada, and Seattle Washington as well as The International Conferences on Thinking in Venice, Italy, London, UK and Providence Rhode Island USA. I was formerly Research Director of the Macquarie University Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism.

Teaching

I teach in three areas. Firstly I teach in the area of Thinking and Reasoning. With my co-author Dr Stephanie Howarth we hope to write a textbook in the coming few years which covers the field and brings to focus some of the important and fascinating questions that the area has to offer both from a knowledge perspective and as research topics.

Secondly i teach Research Design. I am committed to rigorous research and in order to do this students need to understand the elements of good design and the ways this can be implemented.

My third area is in the domain of the philosophical and historical bases of the scientific method as it is applied in psychology specifically and the social science in general.

Research student supervision

I have a number of current and recently graduated doctoral students with whom I enjoy the privilege of developing research questions and examining them empirically.

Two of my recent past students have examined such topics as Confirmation bias using my SINTELLA experimental methodology, and the moral limits of markets which explores how to facilitate the availability of organs for transplant.

My current students are examining topics such as Ethical leadership and employee voice, working memory and the operation of reasoning processes, the concept of identity fusion and the illusion of explanatory depth, teleology and the intentional stance in religious reasoning and the effect of biased reasoning in type two processes.

Community engagement

My community engagement is most closely carried out in the Security and Defence domain. I consult to the Department of Defence on a range of issues and have been funded for a number of projects over the past 10 years.

Research engagement

My international enagement has included Queens University Belfast and most recently Cambridge University in the arwas of thining and reasoning more specificially in terms of risk perception and decision making.

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Projects 2008 2016

Research Outputs 1991 2018

Choice and background knowledge: how do individuals evaluate accumulating evidence in a murder scenario?

Mackenzie, E., Chalmers, E., Wastell, C. A., Duncan, P. & Roberts, M., 2 Apr 2018, In : International journal of psychological studies. 10, 2, p. 1-14 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File
homicide
guilt
scenario
offense
evidence

The development of Complex Emergent Modularity: a reply to Favela, Amon, & van Rooij (2018)

Wastell, C. A., Purcell, Z., Howarth, S., Paterson, W. & Slocombe, B., 1 Aug 2018, In : Theory & Psychology. 28, 4, p. 568-571 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionResearch

Interaction
Modularity
Dual Process
Entity

Are atheists implicit theists?

Hitzeman, C. & Wastell, C., 2017, In : Journal of Cognition and Culture. 17, 1-2, p. 27-50 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Social Behavior
Religion
credibility
Cognitive Science
social behavior

An emergence solution to the reasoning dual processes interaction problem

Wastell, C. A., 2014, In : Theory & Psychology. 24, 3, p. 339-358 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Research
Dual Process
Modularity
Interaction
Human Reasoning

Editorial

Wastell, C., 2013, In : Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. 8, 1, p. 1 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialResearch