Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Agents like Snowden prone to irrational decision making, study finds

Date:
July 9, 2013
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
U.S. intelligence agents -- like the embattled Edward Snowden -- are more prone to irrational inconsistencies in decision making when compared to college students and post-college adults, according to a new study.

U.S. intelligence agents -- like the embattled Edward Snowden -- are more prone to irrational inconsistencies in decision making when compared to college students and post-college adults. That's according a new Cornell University study to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

The study found intelligence agents exhibited larger biases on 30 gain-loss framing decisions, and were also more confident in those decisions. Thirty-six agents were recruited for the study from an anonymous federal agency, and were presented with scenarios such as:

- The U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Do you: Save 200 people for sure, or choose the option with 1/3 probability that 600 will be saved and a 2/3 probability no one will be saved?

- In the same scenario, do you pick the option where 400 will surely die, or instead a 2/3 probability that all 600 will die and a 1/3 probability no one dies?

The results showed agents treated equivalent outcomes differently based on superficial wording. They were more willing than college students to take risks with human lives when outcomes were framed as losses.

These results shed light on the decision-making mechanisms of intelligence agents who identify and mitigate risks to national security, said Valerie Reyna, Cornell professor of human development and psychology, and lead author of the study. Like some other laboratory gambling tasks, framing effects have been shown to predict real-world behavior, Reyna added.

Reyna also said these results suggest that meaning and context play a larger role in risky decision-making as experts gain experience. That experience can enhance performance, but also has predictable pitfalls.

More from the journal Psychological Science: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/were-only-human/spooky-judgments-how-spies-think-about-danger.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Agents like Snowden prone to irrational decision making, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709091409.htm>.
Cornell University. (2013, July 9). Agents like Snowden prone to irrational decision making, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709091409.htm
Cornell University. "Agents like Snowden prone to irrational decision making, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709091409.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins