Have you ever wondered what differentiates expert decision makers from average – or even poor – decision makers? Rosen, Salas, Lyons, and Fiore (2008) have developed a list of mechanisms that characterize expert decision making. They include (p. 216):
1. Are tightly coupled to cues and contextual features of the environment.
- They develop psychological and physiological adaptations to the task environment.
- They are sensitive to and leverage contextual patterns of cues in decision making.
2. Have a larger knowledge base and organize it differently from non-experts.
- They have a more conceptually organized knowledge base.
- They have more robust connections between aspects of their knowledge.
- They have a more abstracted and functional knowledge base.
3. Engage in pattern recognition.
- They perceive larger and more meaningful patterns in the environment.
- They are able to detect subtle cue configurations.
- They are able to retrieve courses of action based on situation/action matching rules.
4. Engage in deliberate and guided practice.
- They devote time and effort to improving knowledge and skills.
- They have high motivation to learn and long term learning goals.
5. Seek diagnostic feedback.
- They seek out input from other experts.
- They self-diagnose their performance, identify weaknesses in their knowledge and processes, and correct them.
6. Have better situation assessment and problem representations.
- They spend more time evaluating the situation.
- They create deeper, more conceptual, more functional, and more abstracted situation representations.
7. Have specialized memory skills.
- They functionally increase their ability to handle large amounts of information.
- They anticipate what information will be needed in the decision making.
8. Automate the small skills.
- They quickly and effortlessly do what requires large amounts of attention for non-experts.
- They have more cognitive resources available for dealing with more complex aspects of decision making.
9. Self-regulate and monitor their progress.
- They evaluate their own understanding of a situation.
- They judge the consistency, reliability, and completeness of their information.
- They make good decisions about when to stop evaluating the situation.
Rosen, M.A., Salas, E., Lyons, R., & Fiore, S.M. (2008). Expertise and naturalistic decision making in organizations: Mechanisms of effective decision making. In G.P. Hodgkinson & W.H. Starbuck (Eds.), The oxford handbook of organizational decision making (pp. 211-230). New York: Oxford University Press.