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Raytheon BBN To Develop Game-Based Training Methods and Systems to Improve Decision-Making
by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Nov 21, 2011

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The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), through an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract, has awarded Raytheon BBN Technologies a $10.5 million multi-year contract under the Sirius program. BBN is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon.

The goal of the Sirius program is to develop serious games that result in better decision-making by teaching participants to recognize and mitigate the effects of their own biases when analyzing information used to make decisions.

Under the contract, Raytheon BBN will develop game-based training methods and training systems to improve such decision-making by focusing on reducing biases.

The team - which includes game designers, cognitive psychologists, and experts in intelligence analysis and in measuring game-player engagement - will design a relevant and engaging game that is based on an international detective theme, blending best research and practices in bias-mitigation with best practices in game-based teaching.

The training system will focus on six specific types of bias that frequently affect decision-making adversely:

+ Confirmation bias - the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms preconceptions.

+ Blind spot bias - being less aware of one's own cognitive biases than those of others.

+ Fundamental attribution error - over-emphasizing personality-based or character-based effects on behavior.

+ Anchoring bias - relying too heavily on one trait or one piece of information.

+ Representative bias - judging the likelihood of a hypothesis by its resemblance to immediately available data.

+ Projection bias - assuming others share one's current feelings, values or thinking.

Alice Leung, Ph.D. and Sirius co-principal investigator at Raytheon BBN, said, "This program is a perfect opportunity for us to apply our expertise in creating effective and engaging training to a very challenging problem. The ability to recognize biases and reduce their effects on human information analysis could lead to better decision-making in a wide variety of critical areas."

"Additionally," said Talib Hussain, Ph.D. and Sirius co-principal investigator at Raytheon BBN, "the team will advance the science of game-based training by examining how various game design decisions impact training effectiveness.

"This forward-looking aspect of the Sirius program is very important because it will help us identify a more reliable set of design principles to build games that are effective for training a broad range of skills in the future."

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