Wendy Ross

Research project: On the trail of a thought: A mixed methods approach to problem solving


The purpose of this thesis is to illustrate a novel way of researching how people solve different types of problems which is consistent with an embodied and extended view of cognition. I will present evidence from four studies which range from classic in-lab problem solving tasks to the creative process of an artist working with a difficult new material. All four demonstrate a focus on the finely grained analysis of participant behaviour as a way of understanding how problems are solved and the thesis will demonstrate how this qualitative method can enhance our understanding of the quantitative results which are most commonly reported. Additionally, the qualitative results will allow explanatory mechanisms to be identified which are not currently accounted for in the problem solving literature.  


After completing my undergraduate degree at St Hugh's College, Oxford in languages and literature, I joined Teach First in 2004.

In 2016, I started the MSc in Psychology at Kingston which I completed in 2018 with a distinction winning both the Post Graduate Poster Prize and the Cohort Prize. After a year volunteering as a Research Assistant with the Developmental Psychology research group and the Systemic Cognition Lab, I started my PhD in October 2018 and submitted it in December 2020.

I am currently secretary of the Serendipity Society and senior editor of the Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible. 

Areas of research interest

  • Serendipity
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Methodological Innovations


  • BA (Hons) English and Modern Languages, St Hugh's College, Oxford
  • MSc Psychology, Kingston University


Number of items: 13.


Ross, Wendy and Vallée-Tourangeau, Frédéric (2022) Rewilding cognition : complex dynamics in open experimental systems. Journal of Trial and Error, 2(1), ISSN (online) 2667-1204

Ross, Wendy and Vallée-Tourangeau, Frédéric (2022) Accident and agency : a mixed methods study contrasting luck and interactivity in problem solving. Thinking & Reasoning, 28(4), pp. 487-528. ISSN (print) 1354-6783

Ross, Wendy and Vallée-Tourangeau, Frédéric (2021) Microserendipity in the creative process. Journal of Creative Behavior, 55(3), pp. 661-672. ISSN (online) 2162-6057

Ross, Wendy and Vallee-Tourangeau, Frederic (2021) Catch that word : interactivity, serendipity and verbal fluency in a word production task. Psychological Research, 85, pp. 842-856. ISSN (print) 0340-0727

Vallée-Tourangeau, Frédéric, Ross, Wendy, Ruffatto Rech, Renata and Vallée-Tourangeau, Gaëlle (2020) Insight as discovery. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, ISSN (print) 2044-5911 (Epub Ahead of Print)

Ross, Wendy, Vallee-Tourangeau, Frederic and Van Herwegen, Jo (2020) Mental arithmetic and interactivity : the effect of manipulating external number representations on older children's mental arithmetic success. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 18, pp. 985-1000. ISSN (print) 1571-0068

Ross, Wendy and Vallee-Tourangeau, Frederic (2018) 'For a good poet's made, as well as born' : the relational ontology of Shakespeare's genius. Creativity. Theories - Research - Applications, 5(1), pp. 26-40. ISSN (online) 2354-0036

Book Section

Ross, Wendy, Smith, Sam and Vistic, J. E. (2020) Collaborative creativity. In: Glaveanu, Vlad Petre, (ed.) The Palgrave encyclopedia of the possible. Cham, Switzerland : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9783319983905

Ross, Wendy, Vallee-Tourangeau, Frederic and Glaveanu, Vlad (2019) Collaboration. In: Runco, M. and Pritzker, S., (eds.) Encyclopedia of Creativity. 3rd ed. Academic Press. (In Press)

Ross, Wendy (2019) Serendipity. In: Glaveanu, Vlad Petre, (ed.) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible. Cham, Switzerland : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9783319983905 (In Press)

Conference or Workshop Item

Ross, Wendy and Vallée-Tourangeau, Frédéric (2019) Unknitting the meshwork : interactivity, serendipity and individual differences in a word production task. In: 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI 2019) : Creativity + Cognition + Computation; 24 - 27 July 2019, Montreal, Canada.


Ross, Wendy (2020) On the trail of a thought : a kinenoetic analysis of problem-solving. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .

Database or Web Resource

Ross, Wendy, Vallee-Tourangeau, Frederic and Glaveanu, Vlad (2019) Collaboration. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.23838-8

This list was generated on Sun Jun 4 05:38:13 2023 BST.

Conference papers

Conferences Chaired

2020   Conference Chair, Serendipity and Cognitive Science, Online Symposium

Conference Chair, Creativity Week, Webster University, Geneva

2019    Conference Chair, Serendipity Society Annual Conference, London

Invited Chairs

2020   MIC Conference, Marconi Institute for Creativity, Session Chair

Webinars and Workshops

2020   Seeking serendipity: Strategies to promote serendipity in the workplace. Norfolk Chamber of Commerce (webinar).

2020    Developing creativity in the classroom, Developing Minds Research Group, Kingston University

Invited Talks

2020   Panel Discussion: Through the Looking Glass, Webster University Geneva.

2020    Material traces: Novel methods to study systemic thinking (remote presentation), Webster University, Geneva

2020    New directions in creativity research (remote presentation), University of Arizona. 

2020   Accident and sagacity (remote presentation). Schoenberg Society Seminar at Pärnu Days of Contemporary Music

2019   The consequences of serendipity for real world creativity and innovation. Webster University, Geneva.

2019   Serendipity and problem solving. University of Buckingham

Conference Presentations

Ross, W. (2020) Between the cracks: A case study of accidents, constraints and signs of new growth. MIC Conference, Marconi Institute for Creativity (online conference)

Ross, W. (2020) Accidental thinking: The relational nature of serendipity and the implications for models of higher cognitive processes. Serendipity and Cognitive Science (online symposium)          

Ross, W. (2019) Microserendipity and higher cognitive processes, The Serendipity Society Annual Conference, City University.

Ross W. & Vallée-Tourangeau, F. (2019). Microserendipity in the creative process, MIC Conference, Bologna: Marconi Institute for Creativity

Ross, W. (2019). The importance of serendipity, Webster Creativity Week, Geneva: Webster University

Ross, W. & Vallée-Tourangeau, F. (2019).  First order problem solving and the emergence of serendipity. iCog5, Reading University

Ross, W. (2017).  Interactivity and mental arithmetic: the use of manipulatives aids addition in KS2 pupils. Systemic Cognition Symposium, Kingston University