Cognitive and Motivational Biases in Decision and Risk Analysis

Gilberto Montibeller/Detlof von Winterfeldt
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 14:00
RTH 306

Behavioral decision research has demonstrated that judgments and decisions of ordinary people and experts are subject to numerous biases. Decision and risk analysis were designed to improve judgments and decisions and to overcome many of these biases. However, when eliciting model components and parameters from decision-makers or experts, analysts often face the very biases they are trying to help overcome. When these inputs are biased they can seriously reduce the quality of the model and resulting analysis. Some of these biases are due to faulty cognitive processes; some are due to motivations for preferred analysis outcomes. In this talk we identify the cognitive and motivational biases that are relevant for decision and risk analysis, because they can distort analysis inputs and are difficult to correct. We also review and provide guidance about the existing debiasing techniques to overcome these biases. In addition, we describe some biases that are less relevant, because they can be corrected by using logic or decomposing the elicitation task. We conclude the talk with an agenda for future research on this topic.

Bio: Dr. Gilberto Montibeller is a Tenured Lecturer in Management Science, in the Department of Management, at the London School of Economics, and Course Director of its MSc in Management Science. He is an expert on multi-criteria decision analysis.  His main research interests are on the links between behavioral decision research and decision analytic modeling and on the formal conceptualization of decision aiding practices. He is area editor of the Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and is on the editorial boards of the Informs Decision Analysis and European Journal of Decision Processes journals. Dr Montibeller has published widely in key journals in the field, such as Risk Analysis, European Journal of Operational Research, Decision Support Systems, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, among others. He has held visiting scholar positions at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Austria) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is presently a visiting scholar at Create in the University of Southern California. He is also a visiting professor at CNRS Lamsade (Paris Dauphine University, France) and at the University of São Paulo (Brazil). Dr Montibeller has more than twenty years of experience in conducting decision analytic consultancy projects for private and public organizations, in Continental Europe, Britain, and Latin America. Partner organizations include the UK Department of Agriculture (Defra), World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Babcock International, Itaipu Binational (Brazil and Paraguay), and the Brazilian Centre for SMEs (SEBRAE), among others. Two of his main areas of applications are resource allocation against emerging threats, particularly health and terrorist ones, and multi-criteria health prioritizations.