Debiasing training transfers to improve decision making in the field
Published on Sep 1, 2019
· DOI :10.1177/0956797619861429
The primary objection to debiasing training interventions is a lack of evidence that they transfer to improve decision making in field settings, where reminders of bias are absent. We gave graduate students in three professional programs (N = 290) a one-shot training intervention that reduces confirmation bias in laboratory experiments. Natural variance in the training schedule assigned participants to receive training before or after solving an unannounced business case modeled on the decision to launch the Space Shuttle Challenger. We used case solutions to surreptitiously measure their susceptibility to confirmation bias. Trained participants were 29% less likely to choose the inferior hypothesis-confirming solution than untrained participants. Analysis of case write-ups suggests that a reduction in confirmatory hypothesis testing accounts for their improved decision making in the case. The results provide promising evidence that debiasing training effects transfer to field settings and can improve consequential decisions in professional and private life.