NDM-based cognitive agents for supporting decision-making teams

Xiaocong Fan, Michael McNeese, John Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Naturalistic decision making (NDM) focuses on how people actually make decisions in realistic settings that typically involve ill-structured problems. Taking an experimental approach, we investigate the impacts of using an NDM-based software agent (R-CAST) on the performance of human decision-making teams in a simulated C3I (Communications, Command, Control and Intelligence) environment. We examined four types of decision-making teams with mixed human and agent members playing the roles of intelligence collection and command selection. The experiment also involved two within-group control variables: task complexity and context switching frequency. The result indicates that the use of an R-CAST agent in intelligence collection allows its team member to consider the latest situational information in decision making but might increase the team member's cognitive load. It also indicates that a human member playing the role of command selection should not rely too much on the agent serving as his or her decision aid. Together, it is suggested that the roles of both humans and cognitive agents are critical for achieving the best possible performance of C3I decision-making teams: Whereas agents are superior in computation-intensive activities such as information seeking and filtering, humans are superior in projecting and reasoning about dynamic situations and more adaptable to teammates' cognitive capacities. This study has demonstrated that cognitive agents empowered with NDM models can serve as the teammates and decision aids of human decision makers. Advanced decision support systems built upon such team-aware agents could help achieve reduced cognitive load and effective human-agent collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-234
Number of pages40
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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