Using Games to Overcome Decision-Making Biases

Guest_Jim_* - November 20, 2012 11:10AM in Science & Technology

In rapidly changing situations it is important to be able to respond to the new information that is flowing in, so appropriate responses can be made. Unfortunately this does not always happen because those dictating the response may be biased towards one hypothesis or another. Researchers at Penn State have developed a game for the purpose of identifying decision-making biases people can exhibit so those people can then be trained to overcome them.

These biases can manifest as trying to fit new information to confirm a specific theory of events or by overemphasizing certain pieces of old information over new information, again to support a specific theory. The former is a confirmation bias while the latter is an example of anchoring, and both can be a major problem for many real-life situations. To make the game, which presents players with rapidly changing information, the researchers actually drew from situations that occurred within Iraq, so as to ensure it was very real.

The ultimate goal of this research is to create exercises for intelligence analysts to use that will identify their biases. Once identified, these biases can be minimized so when those analysts are deployed, those that rely on them can be confident the information they are getting is accurate.