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Title: Conflict : sacred values, decision inertia and the psychology of choice in military decision-making
Author: Shortland, N. D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 6568
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis focusses on how individuals make hard choices. Specifically, it focusses on the cognitive conflict that emerges when members of the Armed Forces are presented with two options that are equally adverse during combat operations. Such decisions are often high-risk and any resulting decision inertia (a form of “indecision” that I pay special attention to throughout this thesis) can be costly. The issue, however, is that, to date, psychology has done little to explore least-worst decision-making and decision inertia in military populations. To understand the psychological processes behind these types of decisions, this thesis presents qualitative data collected from Soldiers who have combat experience (e.g., in Afghanistan and Iraq). Through my analysis of this data, I then focus on values, and specifically the importance of “sacred” values, as predictors of decision-making in conditions of high-consequence, uncertainty, and least-worst options. I then take a step back, and examine what separates military and non-military decision-making and decision-makers, by studying the decision-making of Soldiers, police officers and students within a series of simulated military and non-military scenarios. Through these experimental studies, I am then able to empirically test the role of value systems in decision-making within and between these groups. Overall, as well as identifying several domain-specific and domain-general correlates of least-worst decision-making, I identify two “clusters” of values (egocentric and empathetic) which, I feel, hold special importance when considering how least-worst decisions are, and are not, made.
Supervisor: Alison, L. J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral