Decision-Making in a Dynamic Environment: The Effects of Experience and Information Uncertainty
Technical rept. Dec 1998-Jul 1999
PACIFIC SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING GROUP INC SAN DIEGO CA
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The purpose of this research was to investigate decision response times in a dynamic tactical scenario in which participants interacted with a virtual command-post environment. Fifty-two Marines with varying amounts of command-post experience assessed the situation as it developed, determined tactical leverage points, formed a plan of action, and submitted battle orders. Two scenarios, which differed in the level of certainty in the information provided, were studied. The tactical decision process was modeled and analyzed in the following sequential, cognitive stages situation assessment, course of action selection, course of action execution. Results show that the time required to assess the situation was significantly different between the experience groups p .05, revealing that the High-Experience group took considerably longer than the Low-Experience group to assess the situation. However, once the assessment was complete, the selection of a course of action COA was significantly faster for the High-Experience group than the Low-Experience group. In addition, a statistically significant main effect of Task Certainty was found indicating that COA selection under conditions of Low Certainty took significantly longer than under conditions of High Certainty. Time required for COA execution indicated a significant main effect of Experience p .05, a main effect of Task Certainty approaching statistical significance p .067, and a statistically significant interaction p .05. These results indicate that the time needed to execute the COA, once determined, is significantly less for the highly experienced individuals under conditions of low certainty. However, under conditions of high certainty, no statistically significant time differences were found distinguishing the High- and Low-Experience groups. The High-Experience group was significantly more accurate than the Low-Experience group for developing an appropriate COA.
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