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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Aug 15;40(16):4831-7.

Evaluating the quality of structured environmental management decisions.

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  • 1School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Structured decision making (SDM) approaches have been advocated as a means of improving the quality of environmental and related risk management decisions based largely on the self-reported behavior of decision makers. The goal of the research presented here was to test this basis for decision quality by comparing the self-reported assessments of individual decision makers with their actual choice behavior across a set of three related environmental contexts. It was hypothesized that a modified structured decision approach would lead participants to make better informed decisions which accurately reflected their objectives, not based solely on self-reports, but also on internally consistent decision making behavior. Results from this study only partially support this hypothesis. While individuals' self-reports suggest that the structured approach outperformed results from an unstructured control condition, there was a lack of agreement between these self-reported evaluations and actual choice behavior. Beyond the obvious policy implications of decisions that are inconsistent with stated objectives, these findings point to the need for improved metrics when evaluating the quality of environmental decision processes.

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