Making decisions under time constraints in a rapidly changing environment pretty well sums up the job of a board operator in process plants. How can this decision-making be improved?
Recent research has implications for both the selection and training of board operators. It was hypothesized that training operators to make decisions under time constraints should make the performance under time constraints better. This was ultimately proved to be untrue (Gonzalez, C. “Learning to Make Decisions in Dynamic Environments: Effects of Time Constraints and Cognitive Abilities.” Human Factors, Vol 46, #3, 2004).
What the author found was that performance was better when the training had not been done under time constraints, particularly for individuals who scored lower on a test that measures key decision-making capability. The author notes that there is a strong interaction between time constraints and cognitive abilities, theorizing that “more lengthy trials and availability of cognitive abilities helped individuals acquire more complex and useful knowledge that they were subsequently able to use.”
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