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ARA Scientist Publishes Fourth Book on Decision Making

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In early November, Applied Research Associates, Inc. scientist Gary Klein's fourth book, Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making, will be published by MIT Press. The book will cover topics about decision making and the controversy of whether to use intuitions or analytical logic and statistics.

Streetlights and Shadows is about people making decisions under "messy" conditions – when all traditional advice does a person no good. The book examines 10 examples of traditional advice such as pinning down goals, following procedures, gathering more information, connecting the dots, waiting to see all evidence before drawing conclusions, and preparing for risks.

"These ideas make sense in well-ordered situations, but they can get us in trouble in complex situations," Klein said. "That's when we have to give up our reliance on procedures, statistical analyses and formal logic and prepare ourselves to continually adapt to circumstances. That's when we have to rely on our own judgments."

In Streetlights and Shadows, Klein offers realistic ideas about how to make decisions in real-life settings and provides concrete examples to prove his points. Klein explains that, in practice, people make their best decisions by adapting to circumstances rather than following procedures.

"We can make better decisions if we are prepared for complexity and ambiguity and if we stop expecting the data to tell us everything," he said.

Klein is a senior scientist at ARA's Cognitive Solutions Division (formerly Klein Associates Division) located in Fairborn, Ohio where he specializes in decision making and cognitive task analysis methods. He has over 30 years experience and holds a Ph.D. in Psychology.