The Process of Making Judgments
This chapter will focus on several factors that contribute to the process of making judgments. We will draw on information in chapters 3 and 4 related to sensory experience and learning, add to it, and apply the information to the clinical environment. The science of cognitive processing is in its infancy, but the past few years of technologic development, and the research enabled by it, has added to our understanding of this extremely complex function.
A critical component of our professional behavior in health care is the ability to make clinical judgments, which are key to making decisions; yet the processes used are poorly understood (Kassirer and Gorry, 1978). For many years, this topic has attracted a great deal of attention from psychologists, neurobiologists, and behavioral neurologists, among others. If we can understand how the process works for making judgments, perhaps we can plan curricula to maximize the learning opportunities, and design teaching-learning experiences that are the most efficient and effective. The ultimate goal is to increase our capacity to improve patient care.
Traditionally psychologists believed that reasoning was a rational, conscious activity for which one could use formal logic, and tried to create mathematical computer models of reasoning in order to understand the process of inference or judging. Wason and Johnson‐ Laird (1972) came to the conclusion that we