Improving decision making in crisis response through critical thinking support


Schraagen, Jan Maarten and Ven, Josine G.M. van de (2008) Improving decision making in crisis response through critical thinking support. Journal of cognitive engineering and decision making, 2 (4). pp. 311-327. ISSN 1555-3434

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Abstract:In this study, we describe how to use innovative techniques to improve the decision-making process in crisis response organizations. The focus was on building situation awareness of a crisis and overcoming pitfalls such as tunnel vision and information bias through using critical thinking. We started by observing typical difficulties in crisis management in a field study. The essential elements of concern were a deficit in sharing and communicating understanding and a patchy overview of the topics communicated, within as well as between teams. Communication frequently did not entail the reasoning behind a decision that was made. We therefore developed a critical thinking tool that made the reasoning process more explicit and at the same time more robust by tying it to specific hypotheses. We studied a candidate support tool in a controlled setting and found that people made better judgments, particularly in situations where they would be prone to decision biases. We subsequently extended the critical thinking tool to a team setting. We list a number of requirements that are essential for support systems that intend to limit tunnel vision and alleviate communication and coordination problems in crisis response organizat
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