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Communicating uncertainty in risk descriptions: the consequences of presenting imprecise probabilities in time critical decision-making situations
Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Science of Command and Control and Military Technology Division, Command and Control Section. Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1527-287x
Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Science of Command and Control and Military Technology Division, Command and Control Section.
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, Lund, (SWE).
2021 (English)In: Journal of Risk Research, ISSN 1366-9877, E-ISSN 1466-4461, Vol. 24, no 5, p. 629-644Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

One important question concerning a risk description is to what extentit should contain information about the uncertainty surrounding an estimatedprobability for an event, for example, by using some form ofprobability range. Presenting a point estimate together with a rangecan inform the decision-maker about both the best judgement as wellas the strength of knowledge regarding the probability in question, sothat the decision-maker can take this information into considerationwhen making decisions. However, communicating uncertainty in riskdescriptions may lead to delays in the decision-making process, due topeople’s general aversion to ambiguity and other forms of uncertainty.This can be devastating in time critical decision-making situations,where delaying decisions leads to substantial costs or losses - as in thecase of a military command and control (C2) situation or in crisisresponse management (CRM). This study investigated how 106 universitystudents handled a fictive time critical military decision-making situationwith imprecise probabilities presented in the form of ranges. Thepurpose was to make a first estimation regarding if presenting uncertaintyin risk descriptions could be a problem in these kinds of situations.The results show that almost half of the participants delayed theirdecisions and that many participants showed little restraint regardingtheir waiting time. These results indicate that communicating uncertaintyin risk descriptions can be a problem in time critical decisionmakingsituations, and that presenting uncertainty in risk descriptionsmay require decision-makers to be educated in the specific problemsassociated with decision-making in these types of situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021. Vol. 24, no 5, p. 629-644
Keywords [en]
risk description, uncertainty communication, decision-making, imprecise probability, ambiguity, time critical
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Ledningsvetenskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-9385DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2020.1801807ISI: 000556453100001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-9385DiVA, id: diva2:1460309
Available from: 2020-08-23 Created: 2020-08-23 Last updated: 2022-02-14Bibliographically approved

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Rydmark, JoacimKuylenstierna, Jan

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