The effect of time constraint on anticipation, decision making, and option generation in complex and dynamic environments

Patrick K. Belling, Joel Suss, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Researchers interested in performance in complex and dynamic situations have focused on how individuals predict their opponent(s) potential courses of action (i.e., during assessment) and generate potential options about how to respond (i.e., during intervention). When generating predictive options, previous research supports the use of cognitive mechanisms that are consistent with long-term working memory (LTWM) theory (Ericsson and Kintsch in Phychol Rev 102(2):211–245, 1995; Ward et al. in J Cogn Eng Decis Mak 7:231–254, 2013). However, when generating options about how to respond, the extant research supports the use of the take-the-first (TTF) heuristic (Johnson and Raab in Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 91:215–229, 2003). While these models provide possible explanations about how options are generated in situ, often under time pressure, few researchers have tested the claims of these models experimentally by explicitly manipulating time pressure. The current research investigates the effect of time constraint on option-generation behavior during the assessment and intervention phases of decision making by employing a modified version of an established option-generation task in soccer. The results provide additional support for the use of LTWM mechanisms during assessment across both time conditions. During the intervention phase, option-generation behavior appeared consistent with TTF, but only in the non-time-constrained condition. Counter to our expectations, the implementation of time constraint resulted in a shift toward the use of LTWM-type mechanisms during the intervention phase. Modifications to the cognitive-process level descriptions of decision making during intervention are proposed, and implications for training during both phases of decision making are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-366
Number of pages12
JournalCognition, Technology and Work
Issue number3
Early online date1 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


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