Friday, October 28, 2011

Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein on conditions for intuitive expertise

Conclusions from
Conditions for Intutive Expertise :

"In an effort that spanned several years, we attempted to answer one basic question:
Under what conditions are the intuitions of professionals worthy of trust? We do not
claim that the conclusions we reached are surprising (many were anticipated by Shanteau, 1992, Hogarth, 2001, and Myers, 2002, among others),but we believe that they add up to a coherent view of expert intuition, which is more than we expected to achieve when we began.

Our starting point is that intuitive judgments can arise from genuine skill—the focus of the NDM [Naturalitic Decision Making] approach—but that they can also arise
from inappropriate application of the heuristic processes on which students of the HB [Heuristics and Biases] tradition have focused.
Skilled judges are often unaware of the cues that guide them, and individuals whose intuitions are not skilled are even less likely to know where their judgments come
True experts, it is said, know when they don’t know. However, nonexperts (whether or
not they think they are) certainly do not know when they don’t know. Subjective confidence is therefore an unreliable indication of the validity of intuitive judgments and decisions.
The determination of whether intuitive judgments can be trusted requires an examination of the environment in which the judgment is made and of the opportunity
that the judge has had to learn the regularities of that environment.
We describe task environments as “high-validity” if there are stable relationships between objectively identifiable cues and subsequent events or between cues and the
outcomes of possible actions. Medicine and firefighting are practiced in environments of fairly high validity. In contrast, outcomes are effectively unpredictable in zero-validity environments. To a good approximation, predictions
of the future value of individual stocks and long-term forecasts of political events
are made in a zero-validity environment.
Validity and uncertainty are not incompatible. Some environments are both highly valid and substantially uncertain. Poker and warfare are examples. The best moves in
such situations reliably increase the potential for success.
An environment of high validity is a necessary condition for the development of
skilled intuitions. Other necessary conditions include adequate opportunities for
learning the environment (prolonged practice and feedback that is both rapid and
unequivocal). If an environment provides valid cues and good feedback, skill and expert intuition will eventually develop in individuals of sufficient talent.
Although true skill cannot develop in irregular or unpredictable environments,
individuals will some-times make judgments and decisions that are successful by
chance. These “lucky” individuals will be susceptible to an illusion of skill and to
overconfidence (Arkes, 2001). The financial industry is a rich source of examples.
The situation that we have labeled fractionation of skill is another source of overconfidence. Professionals who have expertise in some tasks are sometimes called upon to make judgments in areas in which they have no real skill. (For example, financial analysts may be skilled at evaluating the likely commercial success of a
firm, but this skill does not extend to the judgment of whether the stock of that firm is underpriced.) It is difficult both for the professionals and for those who
observe them to determine the boundaries of their true expertise.
We agree that the weak regularities available in low-validity situations can sometimes support the development of algorithms that do better than chance. These
algorithms only achieve limited accuracy, but they outperform humans because of their advantage of consistency. However, the introduction of algorithms to replace
human judgment is likely to evoke substantial resistance and sometimes has undesirable side effects.

Another conclusion that we both accept is that the approaches of our respective communities have built-in limitations. For historical and methodological reasons, HB researchers generally find errors more interesting and instructive than correct performance; but a psychology of judgment and decision making that ignores intuitive skill is seriously blinkered. Because their intellectual attitudes developed in reaction to the HB tradition, members of the NDM community have an aversion to the word bias and to the corresponding concept; but a psychology of professional judgment that neglects predictable errors cannot be adequate. Although we agree with both of these conclusions, we have yet to move much beyond recognition of the problem. DK is still fascinated by persistent errors, and GK still recoils when biases are mentioned. We hope, however, that our effort may help others do more than we have been able to do in bringing the insights of both communities to bear on their common subject. "

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