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A Model Of The Judgment And Decision-Making Process In Mine Fires; Behavioral And Organizational Dimensions Of Underground Mine Fires
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    Various aspects of judgment and decision-making are key themes in this book. The model presented here serves as a loose structure for the chapters that follow this one. The notion of a model is introduced because growing research interest in the subjective aspects of group and individual behavior has led to a debate over whether judgment is a skill that can be understood scientifically. A related point of contention is whether such an understanding could lead to the development of methods for estimating people's ability to make good decisions during an emergency. There is some literature that supports the potential usefulness of this approach. However, little agreement seems to have been reached on how to define and operationalize even those basic concepts necessary to assess the soundness of decisions from within their environmental and group contexts [Jensen and Benel 1977; Godden and Baddeley 1979; Baumann and Bourbonnais 1982; Brecke 1982; Stone et al. 1985]. A look at the real-world process is clearly needed. The need to attempt a better understanding of judgment and decision-making properties stems from those occasions in the existence of an organization when there is a lot at stake. The process of decision-making (which is part of the exercise of judgment) has been analyzed in situations such as corporate takeovers [Janis and Mann1977], military combat [Begland1979], clinical emergencies [Baumann and Bourbonnais 1982], and aviation events [Billings and Reynard1984]. The fundamental assumption of these analyses is that, while there are untold successes, there are also notable numbers of failures resulting from decisions that can be ascribed to one or more errors in judgment. From a cognitive perspective, any person engaged in decision-making (either alone or in a group) is actively involved in a process characterized by certain elements. These were mentioned in chapter 1, but are reiterated briefly at this point: (1) detection of a problem, (2) definition or diagnosis, (3) consideration of available options, (4) choice of what is perceived as the best option given recognized needs, and (5) execution of the choice based on what has transpired [Flathers et al. 1982; Baumann and Bourbonnais 1982]. At any moment in this process, there are factors at play that have a large impact on one's ability to solve complex problems in a limited time: (1) an internal state [Hedge and Lawson 1979] is the sum of a person's psychomotor skills, knowledge, attitudes, etc.; (2) uncertainty [Brecke 1982] is caused by faulty or incomplete information received from the external environment; (3) stress [Biggs 1968; Jensen and Benel 1977] is generated both by the problem at hand and any background problem that may exist; and (4) complexity, as it is used here, refers to the number of elements involved that must be attended to. These variables are depicted in figure 5.1, and their relationship to each other and to an outcome is indicated. This schema is designed to suggest interaction, because while the judgment and decision-making process may be conceptualized as discrete stages, experience tells us that this is not the way people function in real-world situations.

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