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The Effect of Labels on Analysis

The Effect of Labels on Analysis

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Published by welganj
This thesis examines the notion of cognitive bias as it relates to intelligence analysis. Specifically, it reports the findings of an online experiment in which analysts in the field were given a mock intelligence report featuring one of five labels for hostile groups— either ‗group,‘ ‗insurgent,‘ ‗rebel,‘ ‗militia,‘ or ‗terrorist‘—and then the analysts were asked to complete a survey of questions regarding their impressions of the likelihood, severity, and sophistication of an attack if one were to occur. The overall findings resulted in no statistical significance, though statistical significance was discovered to be present for certain labels and certain questions. What this means for the intelligence community is that more research is needed before conclusive results can be determined. If cognitive bias plays a role in intelligence analysis, it could have implications for the way in which intelligence reporting is done. Regardless, intelligence analysts are trained to be precise, accurate, and as unbiased as possible, and this is a goal of which analysts must continuously be conscious and for which analysts must constantly strive.
This thesis examines the notion of cognitive bias as it relates to intelligence analysis. Specifically, it reports the findings of an online experiment in which analysts in the field were given a mock intelligence report featuring one of five labels for hostile groups— either ‗group,‘ ‗insurgent,‘ ‗rebel,‘ ‗militia,‘ or ‗terrorist‘—and then the analysts were asked to complete a survey of questions regarding their impressions of the likelihood, severity, and sophistication of an attack if one were to occur. The overall findings resulted in no statistical significance, though statistical significance was discovered to be present for certain labels and certain questions. What this means for the intelligence community is that more research is needed before conclusive results can be determined. If cognitive bias plays a role in intelligence analysis, it could have implications for the way in which intelligence reporting is done. Regardless, intelligence analysts are trained to be precise, accurate, and as unbiased as possible, and this is a goal of which analysts must continuously be conscious and for which analysts must constantly strive.

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Published by: welganj on Mar 09, 2010
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THE EFFECT OF LABELS ON ANALYSIS
JEFFREY R. WELGAN
A ThesisSubmitted to the Faculty of Mercyhurst CollegeIn Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements forThe Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCEINAPPLIED INTELLIGENCEDEPARTMENT OF INTELLIGENCE STUDIESMERCYHURST COLLEGEERIE, PENNSLYVANIAJULY 2009
 
 
DEPARTMENT OF INTELLIGENCE STUDIESMERCYHURST COLLEGEERIE, PENNSLYVANIA
THE EFFECT OF LABELS ON INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS
A ThesisSubmitted to the Faculty of Mercyhurst CollegeIn Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements forThe Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCEINAPPLIED INTELLIGENCESubmitted By:
JEFFREY R. WELGANCertificate of Approval:___________________________________
Kristan J. WheatonAssociate ProfessorDepartment of Intelligence Studies
___________________________________
James G. BreckenridgeAssistant ProfessorDepartment of Intelligence Studies
___________________________________
Phillip J. BelfioreVice PresidentOffice of Academic AffairsJuly 2009
 
iii
Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey R. Welgan
 
All rights reserved.

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