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Periodic Report Summary 1 - KJ-IJP (Improving Judgments Project)

Humans are often required to make subjective judgments about situations in the absence of perfect information. For example, employees within an organization have to make decisions, for example related to ethical dilemmas, which might have consequences at a personal, organizational or a societal level. Furthermore, human beings are “boundedly rational”: that is, they use various heuristics and rules-of-thumb to arrive at judgments. And in many cases, these shortcuts can lead to systematic biases that can severely undermine the accuracy of decisions. Improving Judgments Project focuses on understanding the underpinnings of individual and group subjective judgments.
In this project, we have been studying how people actually make judgments and decisions. Specifically, we are looking at how judgments are influenced by different decision-making frames and by personality traits and emotions, and how these affect judgment quality in an interpersonal context. Studying such descriptive aspects also leads us to finding ways towards better managerial decision-making.
Over the last two years, new research on several topics is being developed. Specifically, there are four major works that have been carried out. First, we investigate the effect of different compensation structures within an organization on judgment and decision-making, especially related to (un)ethical conducts. We study one commonly used system, relative performance compensation, wherein rewards are based on one’s performance relative to others. Our results show that people are more likely to use unethical means under relative performance compensation schemes.
In the second paper, we use the concept of using different decision frames to study the effects on judgments of unethical behaviors of others and on one’s own willingness to indulge in such conducts. We find that unpacking unethical behavior into its related consequences - both pre-specified ones as well as self-generated ones - made participants less willing to indulge in it. In the third, we study the role of one specific emotion, namely, anticipated regret, on the advice-taking behavior. One way of improving judgments in an inter-personal context is to take advice from those around us.
In the fourth stream, we are studying the decision-making process of surgeons. Surgeons are confronted with situations of uncertainty, where not all the information is known. The data has been collected for this and the results are being analyzed. We expect to have a deeper understanding on which factors influence the surgeons’ use of rational and intuitive decision process.
Several activities have been conducted for knowledge sharing. PhD students of IE University and IE Business School have been working with the Principal Investigator who in turn is helping them develop into full-time independent researchers. A seminar series (called Behavioral Research Challenge) is being organized periodically where PhD students come together to share their work-in-progress ideas and get feedback on the same. The PI along with her co-authors have presented the research work at major conferences. In April 2016, IE University also hosted a delegation of professors and students from Athens University of Business and Economics under the grant for a one-day workshop.

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Life Sciences