Tag Archives: decision making

riot police standing in a line

Natural Field Experiments to Inform Public Policy

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I am sure that many of you are following the news from Ferguson, Missouri. The death of Michael Brown is a tragedy. But the news coverage is also a tragedy, in part because of the sweeping generalizations that many media organizations are making about the police response. Here is the one that drew out my statistical ire the most. The local police confronted the demonstrators wearing body armor and with armored vehicles. There was a violent clash with demonstrators that led to many injuries. Days later, the state police confronted demonstrators without body armor or armored vehicles. There was no clash. So many of the news media concluded that police using body armor and armored vehicles arouse violence…

a pile of books

Knowledge versus Skills in Training

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There was an article in the latest issue of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News that brings up an important distinction for all of our HF/E domains, particularly when it comes to training. The distinction is between what he refers to as skills versus knowledge, although I often use experience versus expertise. Whatever you call them, they have some fundamental differences.

Skill means a person can actually perform rather than knowing how to perform…

mushrooms in the grass

Metacognition and Decision Making

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Forgive me for having a little fun in today’s post, but I had an interesting metacognitive experience this morning coming to work that I wanted to share. It is directly relevant to my previous post on the debate between Gerd Gigerenzer and behavioral economists on the System 1 / System 2 model. So here goes…

money and a watch

Motivational Priming

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My research in the domain of human motivation has had a profound influence on me. I never realized how important the distinction is between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. When we are motivated intrinsically, we become dedicated, passionate, and persistent. When we are motivated extrinsically, we get tunnel vision on the reward and become less concerned with the underlying activity. This can result in lower quality of performance if we can get the reward through shortcuts. A recent study by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School found something quite powerful…

a woman punching a man

Behavior Change and Self-Identity Resonance

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I use the term self-identity resonance frequently to describe a phenomenon that is often the cause of a failure to accept a logical argument or engage in a productive or attractive behavior. The basic meaning of the term is not always clear to people, so I thought I would share a great blog post from Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project, who tells a very engaging story on the topic.

When people find it hard to change a habit, when they keep trying and failing, often an issue of identity is involved. Our idea of “this is the kind of person I am” is so bound up in our habits and actions that it can be hard to see. But our sense of identity can make it easier or harder to change a habit…

a person holding a tile with a question mark on it

Gigerenzer-Kahneman Debate on Decision Making

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I have heard/seen/read several articles and interviews about the so-called debate between Gerd Gigerenzer and Daniel Kahneman (for example here) about what to do to help people make better decisions. I was so interested that I went out and read Gerd’s new book and re-read Kahneman’s.

A rival psychologist has published a book debunking the behavioural economics of Daniel Kahneman and the men behind Nudge, who, along with the authors of Freakonomics, were once the PM’s pet thinkers. So how do you choose between them?

a refridgerator at a grocery store that is half empty

Scarcity and The Restoration of Freedom Effect

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Marketers often use the scarcity effect to entice consumers. On-line it is even more common. You can now see tags like “Only 4 left at this price!” next to half the items in the eCommerce store. I saw it yesterday shopping for airplane tickets. Or flash sales with countdown clocks. This study has an intriguing new take on it…