Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


Paul Ward


Traditional decision making research has often focused on one's ability to choose from a set of prefixed options, ignoring the process by which decision makers generate courses of action (i.e., options) in-situ (Klein, 1993). In complex and dynamic domains, this option generation process is particularly critical to understanding how successful decisions are made (Zsambok & Klein, 1997). When generating response options for oneself to pursue (i.e., during the intervention-phase of decision making) previous research has supported quick and intuitive heuristics, such as the Take-The-First heuristic (TTF; Johnson & Raab, 2003). When generating predictive options for others in the environment (i.e., during the assessment-phase of decision making), previous research has supported the situational-model-building process described by Long Term Working Memory theory (LTWM; see Ward, Ericsson, & Williams, 2013). In the first three experiments, the claims of TTF and LTWM are tested during assessment- and intervention-phase tasks in soccer. To test what other environmental constraints may dictate the use of these cognitive mechanisms, the claims of these models are also tested in the presence and absence of time pressure. In addition to understanding the option generation process, it is important that researchers in complex and dynamic domains also develop tools that can be used by `real-world' professionals. For this reason, three more experiments were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a new online assessment of perceptual-cognitive skill in soccer. This test differentiated between skill groups and predicted performance on a previously established test and predicted option generation behavior. The test also outperformed domain-general cognitive tests, but not a domain-specific knowledge test when predicting skill group membership. Implications for theory and training, and future directions for the development of applied tools are discussed.