The effects of feedback format on dynamic decision making

Paul Atkins, Robert E Wood, Philip J. Rutgers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The tendency for people to perform poorly on dynamic decision-making tasks has been attributed to their inability to form adequate mental models of dynamic systems (Sterman, 1994). An alternative explanation is that the tabular feedback formats used in previous studies do not facilitate mental representations of the dynamic task and lead to processing overload. Drawing on research in the human factors area, this study examined the impact of graphical versus tabular feedback formats on performance, response times, and learning on a dynamic inventory control task under differing levels of complexity. The graphical feedback group performed better but the tabular group showed stronger evidence of learning. The two groups did not differ in response times. Records of decision rationales showed that participants were aware of complexity factors but were unable to cope with them effectively under either feedback format. The proximity compatibility principle (Wickens & Carswell, 1995) from human factors, which argues that feedback must be matched to the processing requirements of the task, provides a useful theoretical framework for the design and testing of feedback formats for organizational tasks and criteria.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)587-604
    JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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