Doctoring Decisions

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


You have a cough. Don’t worry, you will be fine. Now, say you visit Doctor number one for your cough and he says you have a cold. You go to doctor number two and she says you have asthma, finally you visit doctor number three (just for good measure) and he says its allergies. Great. Now you have three prescriptions to fill for three different illnesses, and you’re still coughing.

When presented with identical information to analyze, people often come up with dozens of solutions and ideas to explain it. This is why we need accuracy in our lives. Knowing that the amount of information doesn’t always improve our decisions, but it does increase our confidence levels may lead us to make a bad decision a little faster. Accurate information can slim down options and offer clearer results.

In the book, Judgment and Decision Making, edited by Hal Arkes and Kenneth Hammond, there is an article titled: Simple Models or Simple Processes? By Lewis Goldberg. He states that accuracy and reliability go hand in hand such that inferential reliability- conclusive accuracy- can be broken down into three processes, stability (holding true over time), consensus (agreement among judges, you), and convergence (agreement with other data sources). The application of these processes in a clinical approach to decision making is as Goldberg says a model of “hidden cognitive processes.” (p. 338)

Goldberg concluded that the best way to increase accuracy in making uncertain decisions was enforcing immediate feedback; whether it is from patient to doctor, buyer to seller, or test results to student; through these forms of instant advice, a person can receive applause and the ability to learn from their mistakes.


Text Credit: Arks, Hal & Hammond, Kenneth; Judgment and Decision Making, Simple Models or Simple Processes?, Goldberg, Lewis; London, UK. 1988.


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