An Approach to Modeling the Impact of Affective States on Command Decision Making7

In this section, we describe how affective variables could be used to modify command decision making within the general context of existing cognitive architectures, such as ACT-R and Soar (see Chapter 3 for further discussion of these and other such models). The basic approach focuses on the use of symbolic, modular cognitive architectures that support parameter-controlled processing, where the parameter vectors represent distinct individual differences across the range of variables discussed earlier. Figure 9.4 illustrates the general notion of individual difference parameters selectively and differentially moderating different processes and resources in a given cognitive architecture, thus leading to observable changes in the behavioral output.

Below is an outline, developed by Hudlicka, of the impact of selected affective states (anxiety, obsessiveness, and depression) on the decision making process of a platoon leader planning an ambush.

Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops, and Time (METT-T) Analysis
  • Depressed state induced by general combat stress level can induce recall of previous failures associated with similar situations (e.g., similar weather, enemy unit involved, friendly task elements, terrain).

  • Lack of time available for planning can increase anxiety and fatigue in an obsessive platoon leader, who requires more time for decision making.

  • Platoon's interim isolated position can increase leader's anxiety.

Tentative Plan Construction
  • Anxious platoon leader can overestimate danger potential of situation and may commit a larger-than-necessary number of troops and resources.

Situation Estimate and Course-of-Action Development
  • Anxious and obsessive leader can be concerned that enemy can bypass ambush too easily and may be tempted to spread personnel out too much to cover more ground.

  • Depressed leader may overestimate likelihood of losing critical equipment (e.g., helicopters).

  • Obsessive leader may micromanage the process, thereby creating additional bottlenecks (e.g., insist on speaking with helicopter pilots).

  • Anxious leader may overestimate danger potential and choose an inappropriate, overly conservative course of action.


This section borrows heavily from Hudlicka (1997).

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