Grappling with Uncertainty in Environments Signaling Spurious Experiential Decisions

Projektinformation

Beskrivning

Making sound decisions under uncertainty in a rapidly changing world is more important than ever. The ongoing covid-19 pandemic demonstrates that crucial decisions with far-reaching consequences often must be made with limited information and considerable time constraints. To postpone decisions until sufficient information is available (if ever) and analyzed from all perspectives can have catastrophic consequences. The GUESSED
project aims to reduce the loss of life from decision errors in uncertain hazardous environments of non-representative feedback. The GUESSED project will improve theories about how people grapple with uncertainty, apply that theoretical knowledge to develop tools to support decision making under uncertainty, and advance theory and practice of experiential learning from decision environments that do not provide
representative feedback. That will be achieved by examining three types of cognitive tools and how their use can be improved in a paradigmatic case of decisions in avalanche terrain. This includes investigating the adaptive exploration of and learning from first-hand experience about the structure of a decision environment; testing the application of heuristic strategies that make a bet on the structure of the environment; and evaluating
the wisdom embodied in other decision makers and the use of collective intelligence.

To advance theories on how and why people make the decisions they do, it is necessary to study decision making in paradigmatic real-world cases to connect theoretical knowledge to particular decision environments. Avalanche terrain—commonly encountered in many of the Nordic countries—represent a highly complex decision environment characterized by special conditions that require specific knowledge from disciplines beyond the traditional decision science fields of psychology, economics and cognitive science. Increasing our understanding of people’s decisions in this context and developing tools to improve their risk management strategies requires an interdisciplinary approach that brings together expertise from a range of disciplines: researchers with specialized knowledge of the specifics of the environment paired with researchers specialized in decision making under uncertainty, supported by researchers specialized in statistical modelling of cognitive processes and benchmarked against decision making in medicine. The diverse theories, concepts and perspectives, and the measures and methods of social sciences and humanities, physical sciences and engineering, and life sciences are essential in order to achieve the scientific objectives of this research project.
Only through such interdisciplinary science can we advance theoretical knowledge of real-world decisions in the paradigmatic case of avalanche risk.

GUESSED will achieve the project objectives through a set of ambitious tasks that build on and extend the state of the art in the field of decision sciences. These tasks are precisely designed to match the capabilities of the research team and its resources. GUESSED will support the exchange of knowledge and methods between the traditional disciplines of the decision sciences and the scientific fields in which increased research on applied judgement and decision making is necessary to meet the needs of an ever changing world. By bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines in the physical, social and life sciences the proposed research safeguards against specialist treatment of a complex decision problem, and synergistic effects are expected to arise within the multidisciplinary research consortium. Moreover, the research consortium has access to unique field data, excellent technological infrastructure, and results gathered in previous work that will facilitate progress toward the planned research goals. The GUESSED project is designed according to a data-to-theory approach of bottom-up research to advance existing theories on decision making under uncertainty in a learning
environment with non-representative feedback. These theoretical advances may be later tested as hypotheses that have relevance beyond the paradigmatic case of avalanche terrain. We strategically chose to study avalanche terrain because such extreme contexts represent a research context that is uniquely rich in information, which is useful for further theorizing decision processes from activities rather than assumptions.

Allmän beskrivning

Making sound decisions under uncertainty in a rapidly changing world is more important than ever. The GUESSED project uses avalanche terrain as a test-bed for developing theories and tools – which will have an impact far beyond the snow covered mountains in the Nordic Countries. The ongoing covid-19 pandemic demonstrates that crucial decisions with far-reaching consequences often must be made with limited information and considerable time constraints. To postpone decisions until sufficient information is available (if ever) and analyzed from all perspectives can have catastrophic consequences.

Many real life situations are complex where people have only partial knowledge of the consequences of their actions and how likely these consequences are to materialize. The GUESSED project aims to reduce the loss of life from decision errors by improving the theory and practice of decision making in uncertain hazardous environments of non-representative feedback. In avalanche terrain people, in different constellations and with
different levels of skill, have to make decisions with limited amounts of information under time restrictions. They navigate in a particularly vexing environment where the key hazard element–snow–is known to change rapidly over space and time. Even with robust data on the physical properties of the snowpack, uncertainty remains. This makes avalanche terrain the ideal test-bed for investigating questions with far broader implication. For
example; How can a decision process be structured to enable novices to make accurate and precise decisions with limited cognitive burden? Or, what affects a group decision, and how can the decision process for a group be structured in order to enable the wisdom of the crowd. People learn far better if an action is followed by an immediate consequence, but how can we make sure that people learn in an environment where feedback is either absent or the consequences may kill you?

The answer to these questions may save lives – far beyond the high North.
Kort titelGUESSED
AkronymGUESSED
StatusPågående
Gällande start-/slutdatum01/01/202131/12/2024

Finansiering

  • NordForsk: 1 500 000,00 €