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Making Judgments

by Placement Factory
Type: NoteSpecialization: Logical ReasoningOffline Downloads: 4Views: 34Uploaded: 1 month agoAdd to Favourite

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-8'*0(17$1''(&,6,210$.,1*81'(5675(66 $129(59,(:)25(0(5*(1&<0$1$*(56 0.RZDOVNL3K' 3V\FKRORJLVW 9DXJKW3K' 063 6RFLRORJLVW 1DWLRL]DO,QVWLWXWHIRU 2FFXSDWLRL]DO6DIHW\DQG+HDOWK 3LWWVEXUJK5HVHDUFK/XERUDWRU\O stress, judgment, decision-making, emergency management, mining paper discusses human judgment and decision-making under stress. The authors review selected recent literature across various disciplines and suggest a definition of stress within the context of decision-making during the management of emergencies. They also discuss fieldwork by the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, NIOSH, which explores traumatic incident stress, the relationship between previous training and performance under stressful conditions, and human behavior in underground mine fires. The authors assert that stress is one of the factors that decision-makers must contend with in most life-or-death situations. They suggest that a better understanding of individual's judgment and decision-making activities while under stress would yield a better understanding of how people reach the choices they make in emergencies. This enhanced understanding would be of enormous value to emergency managers, researchers, and policymakers. ,QWURGXFWLRQ the effect of stressful conditions on human judgment is of importance to emergency managers. In natural or human-induced emergencies, the decisions that are made in the first minutes, hours, and days are critical to the successful mitigation, damage control, prevention of structure and human loss, control of financial costs, and ultimately the overall conclusion of the disaster. The impact of the effect of stress on professional judgment is significant. During an emergency situation, critical judgments are frequently made under conditions of temporary or prolonged stress. Emergency decision-makers are required to process massive amounts of information, which is sometimes incomplete or faulty, under severe time constraints. Definitions use of the term "stress" is rooted deeply in the literature. Lazarus and Lazarus (1994, p.220) discuss the use and definition of the word "stress" and note that it was used as early as the fourteenth century to mean hardship, straits, or adversity of affliction. In the seventeenth century, a Cochrans Mill Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15102, USA email: kkowalski@cdc.gov
physicist-biologist, Robert Hooke, tried to help engineers design man-made stluctures such as bridges, which had to carry heavy loads and resist buffeting by winds, earthquakes and other natural forces that could destroy them. An important and practical engineering task, therefore, was how to design bridges to resist these loads, or stresses. Hooke' s analysis greatly influenced the way stress came to be thought of in physiology, psychology, and sociology - as an environmental demand on a biological, psychological, or social system. One popular definition stipulates that "stress is a process by which certain work demands evoke an appraisal process in which perceived demands exceed resources and result in undesirable physiological, emotional, cognitive and social changes" (Salas et aI., 1996, p.6). The authors hold this definition as one of the most appropriate for emergency management purposes, because "demand exceeding resource" is a key factor, either in the management of an emergency or in the response of an individual. The focus is on the demand -- which may come from numerous sources including the environment, physiological constraints and social factors -- and the human resource, which is dependent, again, upon numerous factors including individual perception, training, and expenence. The relationship of stress to judgment and decision-making is an aspect of human behavior that remains relatively unexplored (Hammond, Gillis, 1993). Consequently, the literature in this area is limited and not always conclusive. Gillis (1993, p. 1355) maintains that "while research on 1) the nature and consequences of stress; and 2) human judgment and decision-making are large and varied, there is virtually no overlap between the two despite the obvious practical importance of the effect of stress on judgments ..." Hammond points out that the notion of stress having an influence on judgment was only first broached during a US Congressional hearing in 1988. At issue was compensation for the victims of Iran Air Flight 655, which was shot down by the American cruiser Vincennes over the Persian Gulf. A second hearing was called "to examine the impact of human factors such as stress" on the crew's perlormance. 1.2 The Congressional Inquiry Two questions posed during the second Congressional hearing are of interest to this discussion: 1) Does the perlormance during the shoot-down identify elements of human behavior that are poorly understood? and (2) What have researchers uncovered to date on man' s ability to make rapid and even complex decisions in high-stress environments? (Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, 1989). Four behavioral scientists, identified as expert witnesses, testified and wrote reports to the Defense Policy Panel of the Armed Services in 1989 concluding that we know almost nothing about the extent to which decisions are affected by stressful circumstances, much less the manner in which the decisions are influenced by high-stress environments. The agreement among these experts was three-fold. First, stress is an area that has not been thoroughly studied and we know little about stress in group situations. Secondly, it is believed that the competence of human judgment is decreased by stress (even though the experts could not cite empirical data). Finally, the scientists concluded that stress narrows the focus of attention, implying a negative impact on judgment. In hindsight, these experts appeared to be completely correct only in their first conclusion - that stress is not a thoroughly studied area of human behavior. Conclusions two and three are discussed further in this paper, and the authors suggest the 1989 analysis was too simplistic. One recommendation of the Committee to Congress was that stress needed to be studied further. Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NlOSH) joined forces in 1990, declaring the 90's to be the "Decade of Stress." During that decade, resources and attention were focused on increasing knowledge about the human stress response and its relationship to numerous variables.
1.3 Paper Overview Over a dozen years have passed since the Congressional hearings on Iran Flight 655, and although no conclusive data on judgment and decision-making have emerged, a number of studies have reached conclusions of interest to those who must make decisions under stress. The research is scattered throughout the social, psychological, physiological, and medical literature with varying degrees of quality and breadth. This paper presents a selection of these studies with the intention of stimulating a dialogue among those managers and others who are responsible for developing models and planning responses that require decision-making in disaster situations. Assumptions and key issues 2.1 Stress is affected by perception. It is critical to include the concept of perception when discussing stress in relation to performance, including performance in judgment and decision-making. The reader should note that in Section 1.1, discussing the definition of stress, the key phrase "perceived demands" is used. Ability to cope with stress is dependent upon an individual's perception or interpretation of an event. Gillis (1993) suggests that stressful circumstances do not automatically lead to problems in judgment; it is the perceived experience of distress. One obvious implication of such a notion is that an attempt should be made whenever possible to minimize distress by psychological, pharmacological, or other means - before a subject enters the judgmental arena. 2.2 Competence in judgment is always compromised under stress. This particular conclusion of the experts in the 1989 Congressional hearings deserves further evaluation. It is important to note that both improved pe$orinumzce and pe$onnamzce degradation have been associated with increased stress (Poulton, 1976). For some individuals, heightened stress elevates their performance. Others are vulnerable to the negative impacts of stress, which results in diminished performance. A physiological example of this positive/negative dynamic of stress is athletic performance. An athlete desiring to be at an optimal performance level while competing demands an optimal stress level. The stress level should be enough to stimulate top performance, but not enough to over-stress the body, because performance declines as the body moves toward exhaustion. Studying the effect of stress on performance and judgment, Dorner and Pfeifer (1993) subjected 40 subjects to a computerized forest firefighting game. Half of the subjects were placed under conditions of stress (a disturbing noise) and the others were left to focus on their task. The exercise involved varying levels of difficulty and lasted five hours. The researchers found that subjects under stress performed equally to those not stressed, but their problem solving patterns were different. Stressed subjects focused on the general outline of the problem, while non-stressed individuals relied on in-depth analysis. Consequently, stressed subjects made fewer errors in setting priorities while non-stressed subjects controlled their fiefighting operations better. Two Greek researchers, Kontogiannis and Kossiavelou (1999), examined the decision-making strategies and cooperation patterns used by proven, efficient teams in adapting their behavior to cope with stressful emergencies. The authors conclude that stress restricts cue sampling, decreases vigilance, reduces the capacity of working memory, causes premature closure in evaluating alternative options, and results in task shedding. A study of military commanders (Serfaty and Entin, 1993) found that teams with records of superior performance have one common critical characteristic: They are extremely adaptive to varying demands. The teams in their study could maintain performance using just one-third of the time usually available to make decisions, but the mode of communication changed. Initially, the team responded to explicit requests in communications from commanders. As time pressure increased, they stopped waiting for explicit
requests and instead provided commanders with information they implicitly determined would be useful. The authors suggest that changes from 'explicit' to 'implicit' communication can help teams maintain performance under time pressure. Implicit coordination patterns, anticipatory behavior, and redirection of the team communication strategy are evident under conditions of increased timepressure. The authors conclude that effective changes in communication patterns may involve updating team members, regularly anticipating the needs of others offering unrequested information, minimizing interruptions, and articulating plans at a high level in order to allow flexibility in the role of front-line emergency responders. The authors found support for the main hypothesis that team coordination strategies will evolve from explicit coordination under low workload conditions to implicit coordination as work load increases. 2.3 Stress is related to information. In studies of escape from underground mine fires, researchers have identified several human behavioral and organizational dimensions relevant to understanding decision-making under duress. First, initial warnings in dangerous situations are often unclear, sometimes due to the way technology behaves, and sometimes due to faulty communication. This can lead to different interpretations of the problem. Second, people frequently fail to gather the right kinds of information, which prevents them from making appropriate responses. Third, once a decision is made, individuals respond well to a leader; however, if leadership is lacking people tend to become confused. Finally, apparatus (e.g., those used in mine emergencies) may not work as expected or may fail. Thus, emergency decision-makers under stress not only have the effects of their own stress response and its resulting consequences, the information they must base their judgments on is often unclear, faulty, and incomplete (NIOSH, 2000). 2.4 Stress narrows the focus of attention. A primary conclusion of the experts at the Congressional hearing was that stress narrows one's focus. Time pressure studies, where the subject is given a task and a specific, usually unreasonable, time to complete it, generally support this conclusion. Other studies, however, indicate inconclusive results for this conclusion (Hammond, 2000). Negative informatiorz gairzs become important under time pressure, because they need to be evaluated and discarded. If a situation involves risk (as in response to an emergency), time pressure studies show that the subject becomes more cautious and adopts risk-avoiding behavior with an importance placed on avoidirzg losses (Flanagan, 1954). These studies have shown that under time pressure the subject adopts a siinpler inode of irzfonnatiorz yrocessirzg in which alternatives are not explored fully, and certain important "cues" are used to determine the decision. From these studies, the experts conclude that stress rzurrows the focus of atte~ztiorz. In other words, the focus of attention shrinks, and the individual focuses just on critical issues and elements. This focused attention was assumed to be bad, but it actually may be good because it can eliminate nonessential information and highlight the most important sources. Citing two studies reported in 1993, Gillis (1993) did not find support for the "narrowing of attention" hypothesis. Keinan et al. (1987) tested the proposition that deficient decision-making under stress is due largely to an individual's failure to fulfill adequately a most elementary requirement of the decision-making process, i.e., the systematic consideration of all relevant decision alternatives. In their study, which required participants to solve decision problems while under stress, one group was put under stress and compared to a non-stress control group. Stress was found to induce a tendency to offer solutions before all decision alternatives had been considered and to scan such alternatives in a non-systematic fashion.

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