Spring 2006





Instructor: Dr. Leonard Adelman

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

            Office Hours: Thursdays, 6:307:10 (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 510 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. I use the full grading scale, including A- and B+. 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. The exams are closed-book and closed-notes. I will tell you which questions have the highest probability of being on the exams during the review period. I will not review written answers to questions prior to the exams. So, please use the review period to make sure you know the answers to questions that might be on the exams.   Laptops can not be used to take the exams.  


I expect students to read the material for each week’s class before the class so that they can answer questions about it. 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. Please notify me if you are not able to attend class. You are permitted to miss 2 classes, with notification. After that, you will receive a “F” for a missed 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 or to conduct an experiment investigating judgment and decision making hypotheses. 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 in this class to your selected problem. The result of the project will be a 15-20 minute presentation (with viewgraphs) on the last day of class.



Week  1  (1/26)      Introduction to Course: Thinking and Deciding (H&D, Chap. 1)


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


Week  3  (2/9)        Judgments from Memory & Anchoring & Adjustment (H&D, Chaps. 4 & 5)


Week  4  (2/16)      Judgments by Similarity, Scenarios, & Explanations (H&D, Chaps. 6 & 7)         


Week  5  (2/23)      Thinking about Randomness, Causation, & Uncertainty (H&D, Chaps. 8 & 9)   


Week  6  (3/2)        Consequences: Simple Values (H&D, Chap. 10)  & Review for Mid-Term


Week 7 (3/9)          Mid‑Term Exam


Week  8  (3/16)      No Class (Spring Break)


Week  9  (3/23)      Review Mid-Term & consider Complex Values and Attitudes (H&D, Ch. 11)


Week 10  (3/30)     Decision Theory (H&D, Chap. 12)


Week  11  (4/6)      Psychological Decision Theory (H&D, Chaps. 13 & 14)


Week 12 (4/13)      Naturalistic Decision Theory & Expertise (Z&K, Chaps. 27, 5, & 17)


Week 13 (4/20)      Expertise continued (Z & K, Chaps. 20, 23, & 30)


Week  14  (4/27)    Metacognition (Z & K, Chaps. 25, 18, & 32)


Week  15  (5/4)      Student Presentations


Week  16  (5/11)    Final Exam (only on material after the mid‑term)