Professor Linden Ball

Prof. Linden Ball

Head of School

School of Psychology

Darwin Building, DB105

+44 (0) 1772 89 3421

Linden Ball is an expert in the psychology of thinking, reasoning and problem solving. He conducts lab-based studies of fundamental thinking processes and real-world studies of reasoning in domains such as design. He is past Chair of the Cognitive Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society (2011-2014), and is Associate Editor of Thinking & Reasoning and Journal of Cognitive Psychology. He is also Series Editor for the Current Issues in Thinking & Reasoning book series published by Psychology Press.

Linden is research active within the area of psychology and is a member of the Cognitive Research Group.

Research Activities

General Research Interests

Thinking and reasoning
Problem solving and expertise
Creativity and innovation
Cognitive processes in design
Context-dependent memory

Current Research Foci

1. Dual Processes in Human Reasoning

Linden's reasoning research aims to understand the interplay between implicit, intuitive processes and explicit, analytic processes. Topics of particular interest include:

  • The factors that influence the dominance of intuitive versus analytic processes in reasoning
  • The way in which competition and conflict between dual reasoning processes is monitored, detected and resolved
  • The implications of dual-process views of reasoning for an understanding of human rationality

2. Uncertainty and Strategic Shifts in Expert Cognition

Much of Linden's expertise research focuses on design cognition and explores the way in which uncertainty arising from metacognitive awareness of knowledge limitations determines changes in strategic processing. Topics of particular interest include:

  • The influence of uncertainty as a trigger for the deployment of analogising and mental simulation processes
  • The role of uncertainty in mediating between design complexity and strategic switches from breadth-first to depth-first modes of design development
  • The association between uncertainty and creativity in innovative design contexts



Thompson, Valerie A, Prowse Turner, Jamie A, Pennycook, Gordon, Ball, Linden, Brack, Hannah, Ophir, Yael and Ackerman, Rakefet (2013) The role of answer fluency and perceptual fluency as metacognitive cues for initiating analytic thinking. Cognition, 128 (2). pp. 237-251. ISSN 0010-0277

Howe, Mark L., Garner, Sarah R., Dewhurst, Stephen A. and Ball, Linden J. (2010) Can false memories prime problem solutions? Cognition, 117 (2). pp. 176-181. ISSN 0010-0277.

Litchfield, Damien, Ball, Linden J., Donovan, Tim, Manning, David J. and Crawford, Trever (2010) Viewing another person’s eye movements improves identification of pulmonary nodules in chest x-ray inspection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 16 (3). pp. 251-262. ISSN 1076-898X.

Ball, Linden J. and Quayle, Jeremy D. (2009) Phonological and visual distinctiveness effects in syllogistic reasoning: Implications for mental models theory. Memory & Cognition, 37 (6). pp. 759-768. ISSN 0090-502X.

More publications


PhD, Cognitive Processes in Engineering Design, Polytechnic South West, Plymouth; Awarded by the CNAA, 1990

BSc (Hons) Psychology, Plymouth Polytechnic; Awarded by the CNAA, 1986


Associate Fellow, British Psychological Society (AFBPsS), Since 2003

Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), Since 2003

Member, Design Research Society, Since 2010

Member, Cognitive Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society, Since 1991

External Activities

Editorial Roles

Associate Editor, Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Associate Editor, Thinking & Reasoning
Editorial Board, CoDesign: International Journal of Co-Creation in Design and the Arts
Series Editor, Current Issues in Thinking & Reasoning, Psychology Press
Editorial Board, Design Studies: The International Journal for Design Research in Engineering, Architecture, Products & Systems

External Committee Roles

Past Chair, Cognitive Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society (2011-2014)

External Research Funding Since 2008

The Development of Priming in Analogical Reasoning using True and False Memories.
ESRC Standard Grant, May 2012 to April 2015.
CoI with Prof Mark Howe (City University, London).
Total Project Funding: £480,000.

DITTOS: Detection of Insider Threats: Techniques, Observations and Simulation.
Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), April 2010 to March 2012.
CoI with Dr Coral Dando (Lancaster University), Prof Tom Ormerod (Lancaster University) & Prof Paul Taylor (Lancaster University).
Total Project Funding: £251,051.

EA-MDE: An Empirical Assessment of the Efficacy of Model Driven Engineering
EPSRC Prioritisation Panel, October 2009 to September 2010.
CoI with Prof John Whittle (Lancaster University), Prof Awais Rashid (Lancaster University) & Prof Tom Ormerod (Lancaster University).
Total Project Funding: £132,770.

Economic Decision Making: Preference Reversals with Vague Probabilities
ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Collaborative Fund, September 2008 to April 2009.
CoI with Dr N. Bardsley (Reading University), Prof Tom Ormerod (Lancaster University) & Prof Charlie Lewis (Lancaster University).
Total Project Funding: £10,000.

DESIRE: Creative Design for Innovation in Science and Technology
European Union’s FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network Programme, September 2008 to August 2012.
CoI with Dr Corina Sas (Lancaster University), A. Dix (University of Birmingham) & investigators at 6 other European institutions.
Total Project Funding: €3,157,205; Psychology Component: €209,005.