Use of Critical Analysis Method to Conduct a Cognitive Task Analysis of Intelligence Analysts
Hutchins, Susan G.
Card, Stuart K.
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Intelligence analysts (IAs) engage in information seeking, evaluation, prediction, and reporting behavior in an information-intensive work environment. A Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) was conducted to capture data that will provide input to support development of a model of the IAs processes, biases, and analytic strategies. A hybrid method was used to conduct the CTA, including a modified version of the critical decision method -the critical analysis method. The essential distinction was that participants were asked to describe an example of a strategic analysis problem. Procedures used to conduct the critical analysis method are described in this paper. Several factors contribute to making the IA’s task challenging: (i) time pressure to produce reports in a shorter timeframe, (ii) a high cognitive workload, and (iii) difficult human judgments that are required regarding uncertain validity and reliability of the data. Human judgments are involved in considering the plausibility of information, deciding what information to trust, and determining how much weight to place on specific pieces of data. Intelligence analysis involves a complex process of assessing the reliability of information from a wide variety of sources and combining seemingly unrelated events. This problem is challenging because it involves aspects of data mining, data correlation and human judgment.
In Proceedings of the 47th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Meeting, October 13-17, 2003, Denver, CO.
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