Decisionmaking During the Planning Process

by Barbara Hayes-Roth, Perry W. Thorndyke

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Planning requires an individual to make a series of decisions about an intended course of action. This Note evaluates two major assumptions of an "opportunistic" model of the planning process: (1) that planners make decisions at different levels of abstraction; and (2) that prior decisions influence subsequent decisions opportunistically, regardless of their respective levels of abstraction. Results of three experiments support these assumptions. In Experiment 1, subjects sorted statements of different planning decisions according to similarity. Their sortings confirmed the postulated levels of abstraction. In Experiments 2 and 3, subjects chose between alternative decisions, given a particular prior decision. In Experiment 2, the prior decision influenced subjects' choices between two alternative decisions at both higher and lower levels of abstraction than the prior decision. In Experiment 3, it influenced their choices between alternatives at two different levels of abstraction. This Note should interest researchers concerned with cognitive processes underlying planning.

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