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Bias Mitigation with Digital Games

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Teaching Bias Mitigation with Digital Games

We humans rely on heuristics to assess other people on a daily basis. These assessments influence how we communicate and interact with one another. Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts acquired from existing beliefs and past experiences. Although heuristics allow us to make fast decisions with minimal effort, they inadvertently make us more susceptible to cognitive biases. Heuristics are difficult to overcome using traditional training techniques. However, game-based learning mechanisms may offer unique affordances that help us meet these challenges.

Heuristics and cognitive biases affect virtually every judgment we make in daily life, including our ability to assess credibility. Recent meta-analyses have shown humans often perform no better than chance when attempting to distinguish truths from deception and that people tend to be over-confident in their own ability to detect deception. Even law enforcement officials with professional training struggle with detection deception. What’s more, we are rarely aware of our own biases due to the “bias blind spot”. The bias blind spot, along with our sense of over-confidence, makes us resistant to traditional training efforts aimed at changing our decision-making processes, particularly when they involve heuristic processing.

Although there is a lot of evidence documenting the existence of cognitive bias in decision making, we do not know much about our ability to mitigate these biases. Cognitive biases are so natural and ingrained, overcoming them is extremely difficult. Thus, the prime objective of this project is to explore an innovative approach to using game-based learning to not only help make us aware of our cognitive biases, but also prompt us to overcome our reliance on simple heuristics.

We assert that the experiential environment afforded by game-based learning is particularly effective at facilitating the introspection necessary for learners to actively experiment with more systematic decision-making techniques within an autonomy-supportive environment. We are developing and testing MACBETH (Mitigating Analyst Cognitive Bias by Eliminating Task Heuristics) and VERITAS (Veracity Education and Reactance Instruction through Technology and Applied Skills) as a games designed to help players identify the heuristics typically used in credibility assessments, affording them the opportunity to mitigate their biased thinking.

  • Veritas Game Description

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