Why is Steering Cognition important?

Steering Cognition has the potential to explain previously unquantified patterns of human behaviour which have significant consequences for human society.

The importance of Steering Cognition lies in its explanation of human behaviours which lead to either risks or advantages for individuals and groups. A car driver with poor control will increase risks for himself and others. Similarly, individuals with poor Steering Cognition may increase emotional and social risks for themselves and others, whilst those with better steering travel further and more safely. Importantly, the ability to regulate one’s Steering Cognition is unrelated to IQ or rational group behaviour, so measuring Steering Cognition offers an explanation of behaviours and events not currently detected by traditional metrics and models.


  • Poorly regulated Steering Cognition has been shown to correlate strongly with increased mental health and welfare risks during adolescence. A study in 2015 showed that pupils with certain fixed biases in their Steering Cognition were four times more likely to exhibit self-harm, be bullied or not cope with school pressures
  • Secondary school environments which focus on accelerating pupil progress against narrow academic targets have been shown to impede the development of pupils’ ability to regulate their Steering Cognition, leading to some potentially increased mental health and welfare risks
  • Closed group environments have been shown to result in collective biases in Steering Cognition, which increase in-group defensiveness, cognitive blindness and potential prejudice. This suggests that, at a cognitive level, hostile in-group behaviours may involve the biasing of individuals’ Steering Cognition, through closed environmental priming effects.
  • It is predicted that collective Steering Cognition biases create risks in market behaviours. An individual’s moment-by-moment Steering Cognition is influenced and amplified by the collective biases of others in the same environment. In a closed trading environment, this is effect is predicted to result in amplified irrational but non-conscious collective decision making, and may be a cause of market instabilities.



  • The ability to regulate Steering Cognition has been shown to account for up to 15% of academic outcomes at secondary school. Unlike IQ, Steering Cognition can be improved through coaching and specific teaching approaches, providing a potentially untapped educational dividend for schools
  • A large 2014 study showed that Boarding school education results in better pupil ability to regulate Steering Cognition across social situations than Day school education. This so-called ‘Tribe Effect’ is conjectured to lead to continued social advantages beyond school, such as access to future in-group benefits in work and wider society. The Tribe Effect may in part explain why social mobility has continued to decline despite improvements in academic standards across all sectors of society. READ ARTICLE
  • Employers have been shown to seek employees for higher-level roles such as management and leadership who have better, more flexible Steering Cognition
  • Steering Cognition can be improved through training, coaching and more carefully structured and supportive environments. Steering Cognition is susceptible to both internal and external constraint and direction, equivalent to both teaching a person to drive AND improving the quality of the road signs. As such, improving Steering Cognition provides a targeted, measurable means of behaviourally influencing a population’s non-conscious and conscious behaviours.