The role of complex thought in clinical prediction: Social accountability and the need for cognition

John Ruscio, Elizabethtown College


Research shows that clinical predictions are less accurate than statistical predictions and are held with unreasonable confidence. Because there are obstacles to the implementation of statistical prediction, factors that improve clinical judgment must be identified. One hundred twelve individuals participated in an experiment investigating the role of complex thought in clinical prediction. Results revealed marked performance differences related to the amount of available clinical information. Participants' assessed need for cognition was associated with their consistency, accuracy, and cue-weighting strategies. Social accountability improved confidence performance under certain task conditions but was unrelated to accuracy: Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed, with emphasis on the restructuring of tasks and the selection and training of human forecasters to promote accurate and appropriately confident clinical predictions.