Cleaning up the Attic

Posted on August 7, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |


Imagine your mind as a vacuum, you can pick the color and brand later, this is important. Now, you only have one bag inside of you to get all of the dirt and crumbs and whatever else might be living on your kitchen floor up. Do you go for the giant stuff first? Or pace yourself to make sure you don’t overstuff the bag? You know that you don’t have that much space, so you end up leaving the tiny dust bunnies for the broom. Now that was a smart decision. You saved room for more important things to suck up.

Your mind is like a vacuum bag in that it only has so much room to retain information. In the book, Professional Judgment, edited by Jack Dowie and Arthur Elstein, there is an article titled, Psychology of Clinical Reasoning by Arthur Elstein and George Bordage. In this article, the researchers reviewed the steps that clinicians take when analyzing information, in hopes that they could narrow down a specific process map that is followed for every decision.

Researchers stated “limits exist to the human capacity for rational thought.” (p. 110) this means, the more processes we create to help make good decisions, the less “working memory” we have. They suggest using simple principles which can by broadly applied in order to cut down on the disadvantages of over-using the clinical approach, such as researcher bias, overemphasis on positives, and excessive data collection.

The basics of this principle are:

* Cue acquisition- gathering information

* Hypothesis generation- finding alternative solutions

* Cue interpretation- data analyzed

* Hypothesis evaluation- decision confirmed or recycled anew

In the article, the researchers concluded that this approach would be the most successful for uncertain decision making because it involves direct observation and can easily be translated into real life scenarios.


Text Credit: Dowie, Jack & Elstein, Arthur, Professional Judgment: A Reader in Decision Making, Psychology of Clinical Reasoning, Elstein, Arthur & Bordage, George, Cambridge, UK, 1988.


Photo Credit:


Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: