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My research area is human decision making in the context of safety. A main finding in this field is that human decision making skills are far from optimal. Most of our decisions are made intuitively, based on incomplete knowledge, and with limited reflection. Despite these insights however, decision makers themselves are generally quite confident about the accuracy of their decisions.
In complex environments decisions are often not made individually, but in groups. In dealing with a crisis or in fighting organized crime, for example, several organizations need to make decisions collaboratively. Collaborative decision making is even more complex, as different goals, interests and knowledge need to be taken into account. Even though collaborations have the potential to lead to better decisions, this potential is often underused.
My ambition is to increase our understanding of mechanisms underlying human decision making, to make professionals and citizens more aware of decision biases and to increase accuracy through innovative decision support and technology. I specifically focus on collaboration in fighting organized crime and crisis management and on how decision making is affected by artificial intelligence. As such this ambition concurs with the TNO goal to increase societal safety.
In many ways 2020 was shaped by the COVID-19 crisis. From halfway March till June I participated in the LOT-C (Landelijk Operationeel Team Corona), subteam ‘Societal Resilience’, in order to support Safety Regions in coping with societal consequences of the crisis. In that context, I closely collaborated with the Institute for Safety (IFV) on research on possible (multi-disciplinary) consequences of the crisis. For our crisis management research the pandemic provided an interesting opportunity to identify weakness in crisis management. This research was mostly conducted in the Safety Region Rotterdam Rijnmond, with the aim to design new working methods and support tools to better deal with such complex, multi-dimensional and relatively new crisis.
In addition to the research on crisis management, I worked on multi-party decision making for dealing with subversive crime. I supervised three students in this domain. A TNO Insights article on this topic appeared in January 2020. In addition, we published a well-received booklet with information and tips on improving multi-multi-party collaboration.
Lastly, a signature PhD at the University of Twente was granted: Esther Kox started this year her research on human agent teaming with a particular focus on trust (repair).