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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Does Technology Really Enhance Our Decision-Making Ability?


Making a decision.

Researchers have found that most people cannot distinguish between liking a user interface and making sound choices.

Credit: Goodhousekeeping.co.uk

Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered that most people cannot distinguish between liking a user interface and making sound choices.

The researchers tested whether technology, such as recommender systems, enhances decision-making ability.

Previous assumptions said that in recommender systems, users form very complex mental models of user interfaces. However, the researchers' results contradict this assumption and demonstrate that a person's subjective satisfaction with their decisions is strongly influenced by their cognitive state and traits.

ARL's James Schaffer says, "User experience and choice satisfaction can easily be conflated when good system design creates positive feelings about an experience, artificially leading participants to think good decisions have been made."

The research helps form the basis for evaluation strategies that can help the Army distinguish between technology that boosts performance and technology that is simply innovative.

Schaffer received an award for his paper on the work at ACM's 26th Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization in Singapore in July.

From U.S. Army Research Laboratory
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