Supporting decision making by a critical thinking tool

Kees van Dongen*, Jan Maarten Schraagen, Aletta Eikelboom, Guido te Brake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Building up situation understanding is one of the most difficult tasks in the beginning stages of largescale accidents. As ambiguous information about the events becomes available, decision-makers are often tempted to quickly develop a particular story to explain the observed events. As the accident evolves, decision-makers can fail to revise their initial assessments despite contradicting information. Our approach is to reduce fixation errors and confirmation bias by providing critical thinking support. In a laboratory experiment with 60 participants, we compared the effect on decision making of a critical thinking tool, which requires the explication of evidence-conclusion relations in situation assessment, with two control conditions. Participants acted as crisis managers determining the likely cause of accidents. The results show a positive impact of the tool on both the decision-making process and decision making effectiveness. Participants did, however, take more time to arrive at a conclusion using the tool.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 49th Annual Meeting, HFES 2005
PublisherHuman Factors and Ergonomics Society Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9780945289265
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event49th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, HFES 2005 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 26 Sep 200530 Sep 2005
Conference number: 49

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Human Factors Society Annual Meeting
PublisherHuman Factors & Ergonomics Society
ISSN (Print)1071-1813


Conference49th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, HFES 2005
Abbreviated titleHFES 2005
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Confirmation bias
  • Crisis management
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision support
  • Fixation errors
  • Framing
  • Information order
  • Story building


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