International Conference on Thinking 2016


Devitt, S.K., Pearce, T.R., Perez, T. & Bruza, P. (2016). Mitigating against cognitive bias when eliciting expert intuitions. International Conference on Thinking. Brown University, Providence RI, 4-6 Aug. [.pdf handout]

Abstract: Experts are increasingly being called upon to build decision support systems. Expert intuitions and reflective judgments are subject to similar range of cognitive biases as ordinary folks, with additional levels of overconfidence bias in their judgments. A formal process of hypothesis elicitation is one way to mitigate against some of the impact of systematic biases such as anchoring bias and overconfidence bias. Normative frameworks for hypothesis or ‘novel option’ elicitation are available across multiple disciplines. All frameworks acknowledge the importance and difficulty of generating hypotheses that are a) sufficiently numerous b) lateral and c) relevant and d) plausible. This paper explores whether systematic hypothesis generation can generate the desired degree of creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ style options given that abductive reasoning is one of the least tractable styles of thinking that appears to shirk systematization. I argue that while there is no universal systematic hypothesis generation procedure, experts can be exposed to deliberate and systematic information ecosystems to reduce the prevalence of certain types of cognitive biases and improve decision support systems.

Keywords: Abduction, cognitive bias, option generation

Read .pdf handout

Cognitive Decision Scientist

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S. Kate Devitt

Research Associate, Institute for Future Environments and the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology