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Wading through a world of uncertainty

Computer game improves decision-making

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A prototype game helps improve decision-making skills by training users to understand their uncertainties.

World of Uncertainty presents a series of multiple-choice questions; the aim isn't to answer them correctly, but to assess a participant's level of uncertainty.

An interactive slider indicates their confidence and points are awarded according to how accurately they estimated their level of certainty. Feedback helps users recognise and correct how confident they are when faced with similar decisions.

Dr David Newman, of Queen's University Belfast who led the project, said: "“Whether the choices facing us are simple or complex, a greater awareness of uncertainty and of our own biases can improve the quality of our decision-making. We believe there’s real potential for people to acquire that awareness through computer games.”

The researchers think the software could be adapted for use by commercial games developers and turned into an e-learning training tool, or incorporated into existing video-games that have a strategic element.

World of Uncertainty is a four-year project that received over £269,000 in funding from the EPSRC - the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and physical sciences. It invests £850m a year into a broad range of subjects.

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