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When mental models go wrong. Co-occurrences in dynamic, critical systems

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Denis Besnard, Dr David Greathead



This short paper is intended to highlight an interesting psychological phenomenon affecting the accuracy of mental models. It occurs when two events happen as expected by an operator but for reasons that are actually not understood. In other words, a mental model of a problem is erroneously taken to be valid as a result of a mere co-occurrence. We discuss this phenomenon with the example of a real commercial air crash. We finally address some implications for systems’ design and support tools.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Besnard D, Greathead D

Publication type: Report

Series Title: School of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 2003

Pages: 8

Source Publication Date: March 2003

Report Number: 791

Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne