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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Computer game could improve decision making by Steve Bush

Queen's University Belfast researchers have developed a prototype game to help improve decision making skills in all aspects of life.

It could be built on by commercial games manufacturers and turned into an e-learning or training tool for professionals and for the general public, said the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which supported the research.

An example of suitable dilemma is: You're late for a train. Will you be able to catch it if you run? Or will that result in the stress of wasted effort?

"To maximise your chances of reaching the right decision, you'll need to take into account all information available to you - which may change minute by minute," said EPSRC. "It helps if, using this information, you try to make an appraisal of your chances, which will be more accurate if you take into account how you tend to interpret such information, based on previous experience. For example, maybe you know whether you tend to be over-or under-confident in similar situations."

About the “World of Uncertainty” game
Every day we face uncertainties of different levels. Most of the decisions we make have some unknown or random component. If the decision is required on repeated events we can base our judgment on frequencies or probabilities. For example flipping a fair coin, we know that the objective probability of it falling on heads is 0.5 or in other words chances are 50×50. When objective probabilities cannot be known, a decision maker can express her/his personal uncertainty by subjective probabilities. Basically, this is a quantitative answer to the questions such as “What is a likelihood of a certain outcome”, “What are the chances that you are right?”, “How sure are you?”, “How confident you are on a 1 to 10 scale?” The answers to such questions are subjective and cannot be right or wrong. If you know much about subject matter your estimation might be more accurate. But subject knowledge or expertise is not enough for communicating subjective probabilities. It is important to have “normative” skills. One of the most important indicators of “good” subjective probability estimation is calibration. Good calibration means minimal over or under estimation.
Our game aims at training these normative skills in the players. It allows you to explore your own confidence in your own knowledge, receive detailed feedback and learn from calibration charts.