Naturalistic Decision Making

Naturalistic Decision Making

Naturalistic Decision Making

Naturalistic Decision Making


If you aren't using the term naturalistic decision making, or NDM, you soon will be. Even as a very young field, NDM has already had far-reaching applications in areas as diverse as management, aviation, health care, nuclear power, military command and control, corporate teamwork, and manufacturing.

Put simply, NDM is the way people use their experience to make decisions in the context of a job or task. Of particular interest to NDM researchers are the effects of high-stake consequences, shifting goals, incomplete information, time pressure, uncertainty, and other conditions that are present in most of today's work places and that add to the complexity of decision making. Applications of NDM research findings target decision aids and training that help people in their decision-making processes.

This book reports the findings of top NDM researchers, as well as many of their current applications. In addition, the book offers a historical perspective on the emergence of this new paradigm, describes recent theoretical and methodological advancements, and points to future developments. It was written for people interested in decision making research and applications relative to a diverse array of work settings and products such as human-computer interfaces, decision support systems, individual and team training, product designs, and organizational development and planning.


This volume is the second to appear in this series, and it is one that will stand as representative of the standards and goals of the series. I am hopeful it will serve as a good model.

Contributors to this volume are researchers and applied practitioners, from various backgrounds including experimental psychology, ergonomics, computer science, and systems science, who have aligned themselves with a paradigm called Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM). This volume represents the substance of the Second NDM Conference, which was held in Dayton, OH, in June 1994. Domains for this applied work include health care, aviation, management, manufacturing, command and control, and decision aiding. Theoretical and methodological foundations include the study of expert-novice differences, examination of the role of recognition processes and situation assessment in problem solving, examination of hypothesis formation and testing in real-world situations, and examination of decision-making strategies in emergency situations. Both the first and the second NDM Conference were initiated, planned, and managed by Klein Associates Inc. They also secured sponsorships for the conferences. Klein Associates is, to be sure, unique. However, I should lead into the rest of this preface by saying that any laudations thrust on them are deserved, by virtue of their decades-long empirical efforts, their diverse and substantive research findings, and the important applications of their work to theory and practice. In other words, the stuff stands on its own merits.

Now, how is Klein Associates unique? Well, for one thing they have had this wacky belief that a private firm, one specializing in applications, can contribute to basic science and academia! Their links with the academy are perhaps just as strong as their links with government and industry. They have devoted considerable effort, exemplified by the NDM conferences that have brought together researchers in the academy, government, business, and industry to deal with shared, and tough, problems.

It would be safe to say that something of a revolution or paradigm shift has occurred in the area of judgment and decision making. Like all such shifts, whether modestly or boldly self-proclaimed, the new view defines itself in part in terms of what it is reacting against. In turn, this leads to counterreactions by the old guard and counterclaims of setting up straw men. Like all successful shifts, it is explicitly focused on integrating previous work and views, and on leading the field to new and broader horizons. Few private corporations can lay claim to having had such an impact.

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