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Understanding and control of a simple dynamic system
Örebro University, Department of Behavioural, Social and Legal Sciences.
2003 (English)In: System Dynamics Review, ISSN 0883-7066, E-ISSN 1099-1727, Vol. 19, no 2, p. 119-137Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examined laypeople's understanding of a simple dynamic system, expressed in reasoning and strategies used by the subjects, and how it affected performance. Participants were 15 undergraduate psychology students, 4 male and 11 female; median age was 24 years, ranging from 21 to 31 years. The subjects' task was to establish equilibrium in a simple predator-and-prey system. A task analysis was performed to identify the problem structure, the vital aspects of the task, and the ideal strategies to perform the task. The subjects' actual performance was compared to these strategies. The results revealed that, even though the task was structurally simple, it was still difficult. Much of these difficulties seemed to stem from a low ability to apply indirect reasoning and thinking in terms of discrete time steps instead of in terms of continuous time. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 19, no 2, p. 119-137
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3079DOI: 10.1002/sdr.267OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-3079DiVA, id: diva2:136842
Available from: 2003-11-07 Created: 2003-11-07 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. (Mis)understanding and learning of feedback relations in a simple dynamic system
Open this publication in new window or tab >>(Mis)understanding and learning of feedback relations in a simple dynamic system
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The work presented in this dissertation has focused on laypeople's understanding of a simple dynamic system. The system in question consisted of a predator-and-prey ecology. A computer simulation was used to portray foxes feeding on rabbits. In the simulated game, the participants were allowed to change the number of foxes once per year, where the task was to establish equilibrium. General performance, reasoning and control behavior was investigated in Study 1. The task was found to be difficult, despite its structural simplicity. Low ability to apply indirect reasoning seemed to be the major obstacle. To reach a constant fox population, the rabbit population had to be adjusted to the appropriate size, and the means for obtaining that is the fox population. This was highlighted in Study 2 by the addition of pictorial hints, describing how the foxes were affected by the rabbit supply. Performance, however, was not influenced by the pictorial aids. The participants were able to understand and use the pictures, if explicitly demanded to, but otherwise they treated the pictures as redundant information. If the foxes are, for example, reduced, they lack sufficient food. To allow for growth of the rabbit population, the foxes might need to, temporarily, be reduced even further. In Study 3, many participants understood how the rabbit supply affected the foxes, yet they failed to resist an "urge" to replace lost foxes (and thereby further reduce the rabbit population). In a second predator-and-prey task, participants previously assisted in their completion of the rabbits-and-foxes task outperformed controls who only performed this second task. The performance superiority, however seemed to stem from learning for only half of the participants who were administered the rabbits-and-foxes task. Learning in about half the participants has proven a stable finding.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitetsbibliotek, 2003. p. 72
Series
Örebro Studies in Psychology, ISSN 1651-1328 ; 3
Keywords
Psychology, cognition, problem solving, task difficulty, reasoning, Psykologi
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-47 (URN)91-7668-364-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2003-11-28, Hörsal D, Örebro universitet, Örebro, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2003-11-07 Created: 2003-11-07 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Jensen, Eva

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