RSIS Luncheon Webinar (Feb 2021)
Cognitive Task Analysis and Case Studies: A Method for Testing Cognitive Explanations of War Decision Making
- Dr Pascal Vennesson, Senior Fellow and Head of Research, IDSS, RSIS
- Steven Adam Robert, Lecturer, Language and Communication Centre (LCC), NTU
- Wendy He, Senior Analyst, Military Studies Programme (MSP), IDSS, RSIS
- Dr Evan Resnick, Assistant Professor, Coordinator for External Teaching; Coordinator of MSc (International Relations) Programme, GPO, RSIS
In the last few decades, a new behavioral revolution has swept across the social sciences and led to a welcome expansion of experimental research in International Relations and Foreign Policy studies. However, in the study of real-world political decisions scholars continue to face challenges to establish when cognitive effects occur and measure their strength. Building upon the work of cognitive psychologists who study individual mental processes in real world settings, the goal of this paper is to suggest guidelines for conducting cognitive task analysis (CTA) in war decisions case studies. The value of CTA methods is to offer researchers the opportunity to understand the way people make key judgments and decisions. These methods help to probe how decision-makers interpret situations, make perceptual discriminations, solve problems, generate plans, and use their cognitive skills to carry out challenging tasks. We show that CTA methods can help capture empirically key insights of alternative theories of judgement and decisions, such as the overconfidence model and the recognition-primed decision model, two of the most influential perspectives in cognitive psychology.