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Experimental evaluation of a Critical Thinking Tool to support decision making in crisis situations

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Author: Schraagen, J.M.C. · Eikelboom, A.R. · Dongen, C.J.G. van · Brake, G.M. te
Institution: TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Source:Carle, B.Walle, B. van de, Proceedings of the Second International ISCRAM Conference , Brussels, Belgium
Identifier: 15903
Keywords: Safety Psychology Command and control · decision making · decision support · crisis management · critical thinking


Building up proper situation awareness is one of the most difficult tasks in the beginning stages of large-scale accidents. As ambiguous information about the events becomes available, decision makers are often tempted to quickly choose a particular story to explain the events. Subsequent information that contradicts the initial story may easily be discarded and cognitive tunnel vision takes over. Our approach, as part of the COMBINED Systems project, is to prevent tunnel vision by providing critical thinking support. In a laboratory experiment with 60 participants, we tested this hypothesis by comparing the Critical Thinking tool with a 'no support' control condition and a 'minimal support' condition. Participants acted as crisis managers determining the likely cause of an accident based on different pieces of information. The results show a positive impact of the tool on both the decision making process and decision making effectiveness.