Bathtub Dynamics Revisited: An Examination of Déformation Professionelle in Higher Education

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



It is assumed that more education leads to better understanding of complex systems. Some researchers, however, find indications that simple mechanisms like stocks and flows are not well understood even by people who have passed higher education. In this paper, we test people's understanding of complex systems with the widely studied stock-and-flow (SF) tasks. SF tasks assess people's understanding of the interplay between stocks and flows. We investigate SF failure of domain experts and novices in different knowledge domains. In particular, we compare performance on the original study's Bathtub task with the square wave pattern with two alternative cover stories from the engineering and business domains on different groups of business and engineering students from different semesters. Further, we show that, while engineering students perform better than business students, with progressing in higher education, students may lose the capability of dealing with simple SF tasks. We thus find hints on déformation professionelle in higher education.


Seiten (von - bis)227-249
FachzeitschriftSystems research and behavioral science : the official journal of the International Federation for Systems Research
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 1 Mai 2017

Externe IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-5717-0428/work/142240761



  • Bathtub dynamics, Déformation professionelle, Stock-flow failure