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OU Begins Final Testing of MACBETH: A “Serious Video Game” Developed to Train Future Intelligence Analysts and Mitigate Cognitive Bias

Media Note:  Reporters are invited to experience firsthand how a serious video game works that is designed to train intelligence analysts about biases.  If you are interested in participating in the testing, please contact Norah Dunbar at 405-325-1588 or ndunbar@ou.edu.  A pre-test is required to participate.

Norman, Okla.—A University of Oklahoma team will begin testing MACBETH, an educational or “serious video game” they developed to train intelligence analysts and measure their proficiency in recognizing and mitigating their cognitive biases.  The OU team was one of six teams selected to create a video game for the Air Force Research Laboratory in support of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. 

Norah Dunbar, associate professor in the OU Department of Communication and the Center for Applied Social Research, says the team modeled MACBETH after the game “Clue” because it is familiar to most people.  With MACBETH, players spent less time learning the game and more time solving the problem.  Like Clue, MACBETH gives player(s) a group of suspects to choose from and clues that help the player decide who has committed the crime.  Mentors guide a player by providing insight as to what a player did wrong.

“The OU team focused on creating a video game that was engaging while training a player to recognize a pattern of thinking and correct it when it led to the wrong outcome.  This type of reasoning is required in other professions, such as the medical field,” says Dunbar.  “For example, a physician may make a diagnosis based on what he or she knows, but after looking at the symptoms closely may decide to change the diagnosis based on the information.  Dunbar noted that the OU video game could be adapted to train physicians or law enforcement professionals.

With MACBETH, OU ran four different tests in the laboratory to see if the training resonated with the players or not.  The volunteers who played the video game retained more information than those who watched an instructional video.  A total of 2,000 subjects were tested both at OU and by Judee Burgoon’s team at the University of Arizona.  The OU team included Dunbar; Scott Wilson, OU K20 Center; Matthew Jensen, Michael F. Price College of Business; Claude Miller, OU Department of Communication; and a dozen other scientists.    

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