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Findings and Conclusions The committee's first major task was to evaluate the existing scientific evidence for a wide range of techniques that have been proposed to enhance human performance. This evaluation was intended by our Army sponsors to suggest guidelines for decision making on Army research and training programs. In our evaluation we draw conclusions with respect to whether more basic or applied research is warranted, whether training programs could benefit from new findings or procedures, and what, in particular, might be worth monitoring for potential breakthroughs of use to the Army. In many of the areas examined it appears feasible to pursue carefully designed programs that build on basic research; however, such programs should be monitored closely. The committee's second major task was to develop general guidelines for evaluating newly proposed techniques and their potential application. We are aware that the use of basic and applied research in decision making is a complex issue. Although payoffs from basic research can often be realized in the long run, the value of research findings to the Army depends on developing a way of putting them into practice. With regard to applied or evaluation research, further complexities are evident: multiple, sometimes conflicting, criteria must be satisfied at each of several stages in the evaluation process, from assessing a pilot program to implementing the program in an appropriate setting. Another problem is that of choosing among alternative techniques when none of them has been subjected to a systematic evaluation. In the absence of evaluation studies, the Army needs guidelines for selecting packages and vendors. The committee's evaluation has produced several answers to questions 15
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6 ENHANCING HUMAN PERf ORMANCE of how best to improve performance in specific areas. On the positive side, we learned about the possibilities of priming future learning by presenting material during certain stages of sleep, of improving learning by integrating certain instructional elements, of improving skilled per- formance through certain combinations of mental and physical practice, of reducing stress by providing information that increases the sense of control, of exerting influence by employing certain communication strat- egies, and of maximizing group performance by taking advantage of organizational cultures to transmit values. On the negative side, we discovered a lack of supporting evidence for such techniques as visual training exercises as enhancers of performance, hemispheric synchroniz- ation, and neurolinguistic programming; a lack of scientific justification for the parapsychological phenomena considered; some potentially neg- ative effects of group cohesion; and ambiguous evidence for the effec- tiveness of the suggestive accelerative learning package. The remainder of this chapter presents the committees findings and conclusions, which are presented in two parts: general conclusions regarding the process of evaluating any technique being considered by the Army and specific findings and conclusions for each of the areas of human performance examined. Whenever appropriate, we make recom- mendations for research, evaluation, and practice. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS The committee suggests that the Army move vigorously, yet carefully and systematically, to implement techniques that can be shown to enhance performance in military settings. Such an effort would be timely because of recent developments in the relevant research areas. Moreover, the payoff is likely to be very high if techniques are selected judiciously. Although the desire for dramatic improvements in performance makes some extraordinary techniques attractive, techniques drawn from main- stream research in relevant areas of performance may be more effective. The Army's concern for enhancing human performance and its substantial resources for evaluating techniques place it in a favorable position to take advantage of developments. The Army might also consider the possibilities of transferring its findings to the civilian sector. Collectively, the committee's conclusions call for the adoption of scientifically sound evaluation procedures; however, these procedures must be adapted to institutional needs and must take into account problems of implementation. We summarize these considerations below. SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE Techniques and commercial packages proposed for consideration by the Army should be shown to be effective by adequate scientific evidence
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FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS 17 or compelling theoretical argument, or both. A technique's utility should be judged in relation to alternatives designed for similar purposes, and the estimated utility should be of significant magnitude. Specific stages of analysis can be incorporated in pilot or field testing, and such testing should be carried out by investigators who are independent of the technique's originators or promoters. TESTIMONIALS AS EVIDENCE Personal experiences and testimonials cited on behalf of a technique are not regarded as an acceptable alternative to rigorous scientific evidence. Even when they have high face validity, such personal beliefs are not trustworthy as evidence. They often fail to consider the full range of factors that may be responsible for an observed effect. Personal versions of reality, which are essentially private, are especially antithetical to science, which is a fundamentally public enterprise. Of course, a caution about testimonials should not be confused with a lack of openness to new and unusual ideas. Such openness is consistent with the require- ment that the evidential criteria of science be satisfied. The subject of testimonials as evidence has received considerable attention in recent research on how people arrive at their beliefs. These studies indicate that many sources of bias operate and that they can lead to personal knowledge that is invalid despite its often being associated with high levels of conviction. The committee recommends that this research be disseminated, as appropriate, in the Army. It may then be applied whenever testimony is used as the primary evidence to promote an enhancement technique. CONDITIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION Two kinds of evidence should be sought to support decisions to implement a technique: successful field tests and an analysis of imple- mentability. It would also be useful to analyze the impact of the technique or package on the larger system in which it is to be embedded. These analyses would aid in explaining why the procedures are necessary and why certain consequences are expected. In general, any description of what a technique accomplishes should be accompanied by an explanation of why it accomplishes what it does. Such an explanation would provide a more fundamental understanding of processes affected by exposure to the technique and permit optimal implementation. RATIONAL DECISION MAKING The considerations that must be entertained in selecting a technique for practical use in a military setting are different from the considerations
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18 ENHANCING HUMAN PERf ORMANCE needed to verify the existence of an enhancement effect in a scientific setting. For example, the benefits of correct decisions and the costs of incorrect decisions, that is, the risk calculus, may differ in the two settings. Furthermore, what is viewed as a timely decision will also differ. The specific differences as they apply to particular decisions should be made explicit. MECHANISMS FOR ADVICE It would be useful to provide valid information about useful techniques to Army commanders and other interested staff on a regular basis. Special consideration should be given to ways in which technique-related infor- mation can be transferred from scientists to practitioners. The charac- teristics of a transfer agent could be defined, and such a position might be established within an appropriate office. The committee recommends that the Army Research Institute formalize the ways in which it receives and provides advice about specific tech- niques. A committee to review experimental designs and statistical analyses could be convened to improve the evaluation of techniques. Special and standing committees could also be used to make program recommendations and to review proposals for intramural and extramural research. BIDDING PROCEDURES Purchase by the Army of a commercial enhancement package should take place within the context of a set of well-defined procedures. The committee recommends that an open-bid procedure be followed, based on a full presentation of the Army's stated objectives. This would encourage competitive evaluation of techniques. The following informa- tion, presented in a standard format, should be required: the objectives of the technique, a description of its procedures, evidence that it produces the claimed effects, and the vendorts record of past achievements in relevant areas. Lack of professional training and research experience in human per- formance by a designer or advocate should not preclude consideration of the proposed package; it should, however, signal the need for a more stringent analysis by the Army. SPECIFIC FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS We present below findings and conclusions for each of the areas investigated. Some statements take the form of suggested actions based
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FlNDlNGS AND CONCLUSIONS 19 on what we know; others consist of suggestions for more work or for research that has not yet been done. LEARNING DURING SLEEP 1. The committee finds no evidence to suggest that learning occurs during verified sleep (confirmed as such by electrical recordings of brain activity). However, waking perception and interpretation of verbal ma- terial could well be altered by presenting that material during the lighter stages of sleep. We conclude that the existence and degree of learning and recall of materials presented during sleep should be examined again as a basic research problem. 2. Pending further research results, the committee concludes that possible Army applications of learning during sleep deserve a second look. Findings that suggest the possibility of state-dependent learning and retention (i.e., better recall of material when learned in the same physiological and mental state) may be applicable to fatigued soldiers. Furthermore, even presentations of material that disrupt normal sleep may be cost-effective, as may presentations that coincide with stages of light sleep. ACCELERATED LEARNING 1. Many studies have found that effective instruction is the result of such factors as the quality of instruction, practice or study time, motivation of the learner, and the matching of the training regimen to the job demands. Programs that integrate all these factors would be desirable. We recommend that the Army examine the costs, effectiveness, and longevity of training benefits to be derived from such programs and compare them with established Army procedures. 2. The committee finds little scientific evidence that so-called super- learning programs, such as Suggestive Accelerative Learning and Teach- ing Techniques, derive their instructional benefits from elements outside the mainstream of research and practice. We observe, however, that these programs do integrate well-known instructional, motivational, and practice elements in a manner that is generally not present in most scientific studies. 3. We find that scientifically supported procedures for enhancing skills are not being sufficiently used in training programs and make two recommendations to remedy this problem. First, the basic research literature should be monitored to identify procedures verified by laboratory tests to increase instructional effectiveness. Second, additional basic
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20 ENlIANCINC HUMAN PERFORMANCE research should be supported to expand the understanding of skill acquisition for both noncombat and combat activities. 4. We conclude that the Army training system provides a unique opportunity for cohort testing of training regimens. The Army is in a position to create laboratory classroom environments in which competing training procedures can be scientifically evaluated. 5. The committee recommends that the Army investigate expert teacher programs by identifying and evaluating particularly effective programs within the Army. In addition, transferable elements of effective instruction can be reported to the larger instructional community. IMPROVING MOTOR SKILLS 1. The committee concludes that mental practice is effective in en- hancing the performance of motor skills. This conclusion suggests further work in two directions: (1) evaluation studies of motor skills used in the Army and (2) research designed to determine the combination of mental and physical practice that, on average, would best enhance skill acquisition and maintenance, taking into account both time and cost. 2. The committee concludes that programs purporting to enhance cognitive and behavioral skills by improving visual concentration have not been shown to be effective to date. In our judgment, these programs are not worth further evaluation at this time. 3. The committee concludes that existing data do not establish the generality of observed effects from programs that train visual capabilities to increase performance. 4. Similarly, the committee concludes that the effects of biofeedback on skilled performance remain to be determined. 5. The committee recommends additional research to establish the potential of these techniques in the domain of specific skilled perform ances. ALTERING MENTAL STATES 1. Time did not allow the committee to explore the evidence for a wide variety of specific methods for relating mental states to changes in performance. Such methods include forms of self-induced hypnotic states and peak performance resulting from high levels of focused concentration and meditation. We recommend that reviews of the literature in these areas be undertaken to ascertain whether any practical results might be obtained by the use of such methods. 2. The committee finds that, while the study of mental computations in language and imagery has progressed in recent years, the effort to understand how such computations are modulated by energetic factors
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FINDINGS AND CONCL USIONS 21 such as arousal, stress, emotion, and high levels of sustained concentration has not been fully developed. For example, the claims that certain mental states produce general improvements in performance derive from the idea, supported by research, that arousal affects mental computations and that there ought to be an optimal level of arousal for the performance of such computations. We recommend this as an important area for investment of basic research funds. 3. The committee's review of the appropriate literature refutes claims that link differential use of the brain hemispheres to performance. Further evaluation of these claims depends on developing valid and reliable measures of hemispheric involvement. 4. The committee finds no scientifically acceptable evidence to support the claimed effects of techniques intended to integrate hemispheric activity, for example' Hemi-Sync~. Attempts to increase information- processing capacity by presenting material separately to the two hemi- spheres do not appear to be useful. We conclude that such techniques should be considered further by the Army only if scientific evidence is provided to and evaluated by the Army Research Institute. STRESS MANAGEMENT 1. Existing data indicate that stress is reduced by giving an individual as much knowledge and understanding as possible regarding future events. In addition, giving the individual a sense of control is effective. On the basis of these findings, the committee recommends a systematic program of research and development that would address three questions: (1) How relevant is this finding for stress reduction in the Army? (2) To what extent does stress reduction realized in training transfer to combat situations? (3) What are the limitations on providing knowledge and understanding of future events and a sense of control in the Army setting? Pending the outcome of this research, we suggest that consideration be given to including the material in training programs for company grade, field grade, command' and staff officers. 2. We find that, while biofeedback can achieve a reduction of muscle tension, it does not reduce stress effectively. It is therefore not a promising research topic in that respect. We recommend that funding be directed toward investigation of more promising stress management procedures. 3. We recommend that information be gathered on the costs of stress in terms of organ breakdown, loss of efficiency, and loss of time. This information would have implications for training programs. INFLUENCE STRATEGIES 1. The committee finds no scientific evidence to support the claim that neurolinguistic programming is an effective strategy for exerting influence.
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22 ENHANCING HUMAN PERFORMANCk We advise that further Army study of this aspect of NLP be made only in comparison with other techniques. 2. There are no existing evaluations of NLP as a model of expert performance. We conclude that further investigation of such models may be worthwhile and suggest that NLP be examined in comparison with several other techniques. 3. Concerning the process of technology transfer, we recommend that studies be conducted to develop training regimens for those who train others to wield social influence. The large literature on this topic in social psychology would provide a basis for such packages. GROUP COHESION 1. We find few scientific studies that address the possible relationship between group cohesion and performance; however, such a relationship may well be found with more extensive research. There is a need for research to consider the possibility of negative effects from inducing cohesion and methods of avoiding such effects. The committee recom- mends continued study of cohesion and related group processes. 2. We are favorably impressed with the evaluation studies of the Army's COHORT system. We endorse the investigators' plan to proceed beyond measures of attitudes to measures of group performance. 3. We recommend that the Army, as well as independent investigators, study the possible impacts of cohesion beyond the COHORT system, for example, on intergroup performance. PARAPSYCHOLOGY 1. The committee finds no scientific justification from research con- ducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena. It therefore concludes that there is no reason for direct involvement by the Army at this time. We do recommend, however, that research in certain areas be monitored, including work by the Soviets and the best work in the United States. The latter includes that being done at Princeton University by Robert Jahn; at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn by Charles Honorton, now in Princeton; at San Antonio by Helmut Schmidt; and at the Stanford Research Institute by Edward May. Monitoring could be enhanced by site visits and by expert advice from both proponents and skeptics. The research areas included would be psychokinesis with random event generators and Ganzfeld effects. 2. One possible result of the monitoring mentioned above is the proposal
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~ INDlNGS AND CONCL USIONS 23 of specific studies. In that situation the committee recommends the following procedures: first, the Army and outside scientists should arrive at a common protocol; second, the research should be conducted according to that protocol by both proponents and skeptics; and third, attention should be given in such research to the manipulability and practical application of any effects found to exist.
Representative terms from entire chapter: