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Use case: Critical Thinking Training

The purpose of this use case is to help the Challenge participant understand the context and concrete details of one of the problems tackled by this Innovation Challenge. This use case is not exhaustive. Many other problems to solve are part of this Innovation Challenge, even if not detailed through a Use Case.


Improving individual decision making supposes that one can develop the situational awareness relevant to the decision to be made. In other words, one need to develop an objective image of the environment. As so often proven, our objectivity is continuously challenged by our many natural cognitive biases. Those cognitive biases constitute the key weakness of our decision making process. They are often leveraged by those who want to influence us.

The Situation

A NATO military unit is deployed to a foreign country to support the local government stability and reconstruction efforts. This unit is called PRT, Provincial Reconstruction Team. Its mission consists in building infrastructure in support of the population, providing supply, and gaining support of the population for the stability effort.

A recent violent and deadly terrorist attack against the PRT compound has profoundly impacted the unit.

Fear for their life within the military unit triggered a tightening of the security measures. This had the undesired effect of pushing the local population away for the NATO military, and undermine mutual trust.

The attack also triggered anger and thirst for revenge within the military, who violently over-reacted and caused collateral civilian casualties.

From then on, military personnel sent out to establish rapport with the population are more concerned with finding terrorists than anything else. As a result, they have become less efficient at detecting other relevant information about the social life, however key to the mission.

Some months later, it is clear that the PRT is not conducting its primary mission anymore.

The violent attack, was in fact a cognitive attack, successful in luring the military in stopping their support to the population, and instead focus on violent actions agains terrorists; which alienated the local people.

How can we avoid falling into this trap?

The problem

Military personnel is not enough aware of their cognitive biases, even less able to overcome them. We are looking for training solutions to ensure all military personnel is able to develop an objective, cognitive bias-free, understanding of the situation.