'Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find, for a mind-maker- upper to make up his mind' A tale of indecision and parallel processes

Date & time

4–5pm 13 November 2018


Peter Baume Building 42A Room 2.01


Dr Stephen Tang

Abstract: My doctoral research project – when I eventually made up my mind – was on indecision and indecisiveness. I sought to develop a psychologically meaningful model of indecision (the state of having difficulty with decision-making) and indecisiveness (the corresponding trait). That is, I was interested in the human experience of decision-making and, more importantly, of being a decision-maker, not just in the outcomes of decisions. The first part of the presentation will provide an outline of my methods and results, as well as some observations about how my research questions were generated, crystallised, and discarded. I also review the theory development work that occupied a significant proportion of my research time, and the vital importance of interdisciplinary scholarship. My clinical PhD took me almost 9 years and took me to some unexpected places: academically, personally, and literally. There were also a number of parallel processes between my research and my own experiences. In the second part of my presentation, I reflect on issues of identity, shame, procrastination, and ‘slow’ scholarship that emerged during my candidature. In the final part, I discuss life outside and after the PhD. I find myself increasingly appreciating the value of my research and clinical experience in my work and other roles, and more importantly, in the very many things that are yet to be decided.


Bio: Stephen was conferred his PhD (Clinical Psychology) from the ANU in May 2017. He has been a lecturer at the ANU College of Law since 2014, where he teaches legal psychology and applies psychological theory and research methods to understand legal regulation, legal ethics, the legal profession, and the relationship between law and mental health. Stephen is also an Assistant Director in the Behavioural Economics and Research Team (BERT) in the Australian Government Department of Health, and was previously a senior legal and policy advisor in the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist in ACT Health. For a number of years Stephen was a consultant to the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Policy and Service Development unit, and he is currently the Secretary of the ACT branch of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (ANZAPPL).

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