The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice

Objective Investigations of Controversial and Unorthodox Claims in Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, and Social Work


Clinical Decision Making with a Minimally Complex Task

John Ruscio - The College of New Jersey
Antonee R. Stern - Elizabethtown College

Reaching holistic judgments requires an ability to combine multiple sources of information in an interactive-rather than additive-manner, a cognitively challenging process unsupported by research in the judge-modeling tradition. In three experiments, we more directly tested individuals' ability to make holistic judgments by explicitly showing them how to do so. Participants were provided with full specifications for a judgment task and given specific instructions on how to generate accurate predictions. Relative to a comparison condition in which two cues were additively related to a criterion, holistic judgments based on two interacting cues were less consistent and accurate. These results were replicated and extended across educational levels, academic disciplines, and clinical experience. The inability of par-ticipants to make holistic judgments in a task of minimal complexity has implications for the practical utility of sup-plementing or replacing holistic judgment with statistical prediction rules in clinical practice.

You can read the full text of this article in
The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, vol. 4, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2005-06).
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