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Supporting decision making by a critical thinking tool

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Author: Dongen, C.J.G. van · Schraagen, J.M.C. · Eikelboom, A. · Brake, G.M. te
Type:article
Date:2005
Institution: TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Source:49th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, HFES 2005, 26 September 2005 through 30 September 2005, Orlando, FL,, 517-521
Identifier: 15877
Keywords: Safety Psychology Command and control · Decision making · Human error · Confirmation bias · Crisis management · Critical thinking · Decision support · Fixation errors · Framing · Information order · Story building · Computer aided software engineering · Error correction · Information analysis · Information systems · Information use · Large scale systems · Confirmation bias · Crisis management · Critical thinking tools · Fixation errors · Information order · Story building · Decision support systems

Abstract

Building up situation understanding is one of the most difficult tasks in the beginning stages of largescale accidents. As ambiguous information about the events becomes available, decision-makers are often tempted to quickly develop a particular story to explain the observed events. As the accident evolves, decision-makers can fail to revise their initial assessments despite contradicting information. Our approach is to reduce fixation errors and confirmation bias by providing critical thinking support. In a laboratory experiment with 60 participants, we compared the effect on decision making of a critical thinking tool, which requires the explication of evidence-conclusion relations in situation assessment, with two control conditions. Participants acted as crisis managers determining the likely cause of accidents. The results show a positive impact of the tool on both the decision-making process and decision making effectiveness. Participants did, however, take more time to arrive at a conclusion using the tool.