We present an experimental research program to investigate decision making by crisis response teams working in conditions of time pressure and incomplete information. The focus of the research program is the phenomenon of threat rigidity: the human tendenc y to respond to a new crisis situation rigidly and strictly by the book, even though the learned response may be inappropriate and harmful in the given crisis situation. Our experimental program has two key objectives which are reflected in the proposal of a factorial experimental design. First, we want to identify the decision heuristics that develop in crisis response teams and may cause threat rigidity. Second, we want to investigate the effects of time pressure and incomplete information on threat rigid ity. Prior to the proposed experiments, and building on our earlier systems design work in the area of dynamic emergency response information systems, we develop a crisis team decision support system that will serve as a virtual experimental environment. T his decision support system will allow us to perform a statistically significant number of team decision sessions in a cost efficient and effective way within the two year time span of the EIF grant. Our proposal is innovative in the following aspects. We use a group decision support system for studying team crisis decision making, as well as the decision heuristics that emerge in highly critical situations. In addition, we experimentally investigate the effect of time pressure and information exchange on t hreat rigidity. The timeliness and need of our proposed research program is justified by observing the unprecedented pace of new European initiatives in civilian crisis management, and in particular the decision to create a large pool of European crisis re sponse experts who can be asked to take on a variety of operational field functions in times of crisis in the coming years.
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