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Good Decisions: Tips and Strategies for Avoiding Psychological Traps

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 79 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2010 Pages: 1-9
Brian Fitch Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2010
9 pages
Five decisionmaking biases are outlined (framing, overconfidence, selective attention, information overload, and emotions) that can interfere with the effective decisionmaking of police officers and offers tips and strategies to help officers improve their judgments.
Law enforcement professionals throughout the Nation make thousands of decisions every day. However, most receive little training in this area. Law enforcement officers can improve the quality of their judgments and enhance their confidence in the decisions they make. This article reviews five decisionmaking biases that can interfere with an officer's effective decisionmaking: framing, overconfidence, selective attention, information overload, and emotions. After outlining these decisionmaking biases, tips and strategies are offered to help officers improve their judgments by recognizing and mitigating the powerful, yet unseen, sway of these psychological traps. By increasing an officer's awareness of the innate, systematic biases that often color their decisions, officers can better avoid, or at minimize, decisionmaking traps. With a little effort and awareness, officers can learn to pay better attention to how they frame problems, any feelings of overconfidence, the ways they select and evaluate information, how that information is processed, and the influence of strong emotions. 14 endnotes