support systems. This review of background knowledge is provided both to help NWS and the Enterprise understand key relevant concepts in decision making under uncertainty and to support recommendations on how to identify and characterize users’ needs for uncertainty information. The final section of the chapter discusses how NWS and the Enterprise might apply this knowledge to better understand users’ needs for uncertainty information.
The psychological perspective indicates that there is a variety of ways in which people use prior personal experience, available forecasts, and other sources of information to decide on an appropriate action in a given situation. How people make decisions depends on their abilities, training, and personality, the question to be answered, and the information available. This complexity makes it clear that NWS cannot provide a single forecast product that would satisfy all users. Instead, the committee recommends designing a variety of methods to present and distribute uncertainty information, as a function of type of users and type of decisions. Determining which presentation formats best provide different users with the information they need will require effective, frequent NWS-user-Enterprise interactions and a sustained, coherent social and behavioral science research effort. The prescriptive perspective provides a framework for NWS and the broader Enterprise to identify users and application areas that are most likely to benefit from uncertainty information.
The detailed recommendations in this chapter (along with those in Chapter 4) point NWS and the broader Enterprise toward a process that will help them generate precise questions about various users’ needs for uncertainty information and reliable and valid answers. If implemented, this process will help NWS address users’ needs for uncertainty information into the future as users’ needs, forecasting capabilities, and technologies evolve.