Friday, October 07, 2016

A way to change adult behaviors - debiasing decisions.

Hambrick and Burgoyne do a piece on the difference between rationality and intelligence. Starting from Kahneman and Tversky's work in the early 1970's, countless experiments by now have shown that we are frequently prone to make decisions based on faulty intuition rather than reason. Further, a person with high I.Q. (which reflects abstract reasoning and verbal ability) is no less likely to display "dysrationalia." They point to experiments by Morewedge and colleagues showing that rationality, unlike intelligence, can be improved by a single video or computer training session that illustrates decision-making biases. The improvement was still observed two months later in a different version of the decision-making test. Here is their abstract:
From failures of intelligence analysis to misguided beliefs about vaccinations, biased judgment and decision making contributes to problems in policy, business, medicine, law, education, and private life. Early attempts to reduce decision biases with training met with little success, leading scientists and policy makers to focus on debiasing by using incentives and changes in the presentation and elicitation of decisions. We report the results of two longitudinal experiments that found medium to large effects of one-shot debiasing training interventions. Participants received a single training intervention, played a computer game or watched an instructional video, which addressed biases critical to intelligence analysis (in Experiment 1: bias blind spot, confirmation bias, and fundamental attribution error; in Experiment 2: anchoring, representativeness, and social projection). Both kinds of interventions produced medium to large debiasing effects immediately (games ~ −31.94% and videos ~ −18.60%) that persisted at least 2 months later (games ~ −23.57% and videos ~ −19.20%). Games that provided personalized feedback and practice produced larger effects than did videos. Debiasing effects were domain general: bias reduction occurred across problems in different contexts, and problem formats that were taught and not taught in the interventions. The results suggest that a single training intervention can improve decision making. We suggest its use alongside improved incentives, information presentation, and nudges to reduce costly errors associated with biased judgments and decisions.

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