Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Intelligence agents may be prone to irrational decision making

Date:
July 10, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
U.S. intelligence agents may be more prone to irrational inconsistencies in decision making compared to college students and post-college adults, according to a new study.

U.S. intelligence agents may be more prone to irrational inconsistencies in decision making compared to college students and post-college adults, according to a new study forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study found that 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?

Notably, the different scenarios resulted in the same potential outcomes -- the first option in both scenarios, for example, has a net result of saving 200 people and losing 400.

But the results showed that agents treated these equivalent outcomes differently based on how the scenario was worded. Specifically, they were more willing than college students to take risks with human lives when outcomes were framed as losses. The researchers explain that the agents also "doubled-down" on their choices, expressing more confidence in their decisions.

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

Participants who had graduated college seemed to occupy a middle ground between college students and the intelligence agents, suggesting that people with more "advanced" reasoning skills are also more likely to show reasoning biases.

Ultimately, Reyna explains, meaning and context play a larger role in risky decision making as experts gain experience. That experience can enhance performance in some cases, but also has predictable pitfalls. Co-authors on this research include Christina Chick, Johnathan Corbin, and Andrew Hsia of Cornell University.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Valerie Reyna, Christina Chick, Johnathan Corbin, Andrew Hsia. Developmental Reversals in Risky Decision-Making: Intelligence Agents Show Larger Decision Biases than College Students. Psychological Science, 2013; (forthcoming)

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Intelligence agents may be prone to irrational decision making." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130710155319.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, July 10). Intelligence agents may be prone to irrational decision making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130710155319.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Intelligence agents may be prone to irrational decision making." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130710155319.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. 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:
from the past week

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