Fall 01


Instructor: Dr. Leonard Adelman

            Office: S&T II, Room #325; Phone # 993‑1624

            Office Hours: Tuesdays, 6:30 ‑ 7:10 (or by appointment)

            E‑Mail Address: ladelman@gmu.edu


Hastie, R., & Dawes, R.M. (2001). Rational Choice in an Uncertain World. Thousand Oaks, CA.

Zsambok, C. E. & Klein, G., (eds.), (1997). Naturalistic Decision Making. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Prerequisite: STAT 610 or equivalent or permission of instructor.

The purpose of this course is to overview the scientific literature on judgment and decision making processes. The first part of the course reviews research within the context of behavioral decision theory, which has primarily been conducted within controlled, laboratory settings. The second part of the courses focuses on the naturalistic decision making approach that has become prevalent in non-laboratory settings, such as the military, aviation, and nuclear industries.

There is a mid‑term exam, a final exam, and a student project. Each of the two exams is worth 30% of your grade; the student project is worth 20%. The exams will be based on questions that I handout in class. The questions will cover material presented in the texts and class. Since I will be teaching the class using a seminar format, class participation is critical to its successful implementation. Therefore, I will grade class participation after each class session. Class participation is worth 20% of your grade.

The purpose of the student project is to give students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to a real world problem. Feel free to use material from work and/or other classes. Just make sure that I can clearly see how you are effectively applying what you have learned about judgment and/or decision making in this class to your selected problem. The result of the project will be a 15-minute presentation (with viewgraphs) on the last day of class. There will not be a term paper unless there are too many students for presentations.


Week  1  (8/28)      Introduction to Course: Thinking and Deciding (H&D, Chap. 1)

Week  2  (9/4)        What is Decision Making & a Framework for Judgment (H&D, Chaps 2 & 3)

Week  3  (9/11)      Judgments from Memory & Anchoring & Adjustment (H&D, Chaps. 4 & 5)

Week  4  (9/18)      Judgments by Similarity, Scenarios, & Explanations (H&D, Chaps. 6 & 7)          

Week  5  (9/25)      Thinking about Randomness, Causation, & Uncertainty (H&D, Chaps. 8 & 9)

Week  6  (10/2)      Consequences and Values (H&D, Chaps. 10 & 11) and Review for Mid-Term

Week  7  (10/9)      No Class (Fall Recess)

Week  8  (10/16)    Mid‑Term Exam

Week  9  (10/23)    Review Mid-Term & consider Decision Theory (H&D, Chap. 12)

Week  10  (10/30)  Psychological Decision Theory (H&D, Chaps. 13 & 14)

Week 11 (11/6)      Naturalistic Decision Theory & Expertise (Z&K, Chaps. 27, 5, & 17)

Week 12 (11/13)    Expertise continued (Z & K, Chaps. 20, 23, & 30)

Week  13  (11/7)    Metacognition (Z & K, Chaps. 25, 18, & 32)

Week  14  (11/27)  Image Theory (handout)

Week  15  (12/4)    Student Presentations

Week  16  (12/11)  Final Exam (only on material after the mid‑term)