The use of microworlds in the study of dynamic decision making across cultures

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Computer-simulated complex, dynamic, and uncertain problems, also called microworlds or virtual environments, are a fruitful method to study human decision making across cultures. They have characteristics similar to many real-life problems, yet they allow for experimental control. This paper discusses three crosscultural studies on dynamic decision making using microworlds highlighting strategy differences found using thinking-aloud protocols and human strategy and error analyses from computer log files. The first study investigated the problemsolving and decision-making step model across cultures analyzing thinking-aloud protocols gathered from participants while working on the simulations. The second study analyzed strategies referring to log files of participants’ decisions. Data supported a model postulating that cultural values influenced decision-making strategies which in turn influenced performance. The third study investigated decision-making errors across cultures. The studies showed that the ways in which people deal with dynamic and complex microworld problems are shaped by their learning experiences in their cultural environment, their cultural values, and by cultural specific decision-making strategies. Microworlds bridge the gap between realism and experimental control (Brehmer & Dörner, 1993) and can be an important, cost-effective, step in applied research.

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Advances in Design for Cross-Cultural Activities Part II

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