Debiasing Decisions. Improved Decision Making With A Single Training Intervention

Published on Aug 13, 2015in Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences
· DOI :10.1177/2372732215600886
Carey K. Morewedge27
Estimated H-index: 27
(BU: Boston University),
Haewon Yoon5
Estimated H-index: 5
(BU: Boston University)
+ 3 AuthorsKarim S. Kassam17
Estimated H-index: 17
(CMU: Carnegie Mellon University)
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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