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An Experimental Study of Feedback and Risk in Engineering Decision-Making

[+] Author Affiliations
Mojtaba Arezoomand, Jesse Austin-Breneman

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Paper No. DETC2017-68336, pp. V02AT03A019; 10 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2A: 43rd Design Automation Conference
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA, August 6–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5812-7
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Effectively managing risk is crucial to successful engineering design. Formal methods offer strategies for making decisions under uncertainty and mitigating risk. However, insights from other fields such as cognitive science and behavioral economics suggest that decision-makers may exhibit behaviors in response to feedback which can undermine these strategies. This study presents results from an experiment in which participants were tasked with selecting a design factor of safety for four design prompts under objective risk conditions. Participants were randomly assigned to receive only negative or positive feedback after each decision. Results suggest that the type of feedback influenced the choice of factor of safety even though subjects were provided with the exact benefits and probabilities of all possible outcomes. This experiment suggests further study of the mechanisms by which engineering decision-makers incorporate feedback is necessary.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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