UA Team to Help Develop Intelligence Analyst Training Game

Judee Burgoon of the Eller College of Management is leading the UA portion of a collaborative contract project with the University of Oklahoma.
Nov. 1, 2011
Judee Burgoon
Judee Burgoon
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University of Arizona researchers are part of a team headed by the University of Oklahoma to receive a $10.7 million, multi-year contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory in support of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

The team will develop an educational video game or "serious game" to train intelligence analysts and measure their proficiency in recognizing and mitigating the cognitive biases that affect intelligence analysis.

The objective of the game is to improve accuracy of credibility assessments and reduce cognitive biases of future intelligence analysts. The game is a learning system where players must counteract threats to American interests by using the intelligence data at hand without allowing their cognitive biases to cloud their judgment.

Norah Dunbar of the University of Oklahoma is the primary investigator. Scott Wilson, also of OU, will oversee development of the game called Intelligence Crisis: Codename MACBETH, which stands for Mitigating Analyst Cognitive Bias by Eliminating Task Heuristics.

Judee Burgoon, director of research at the UA Center for the Management of Information at the Eller College of Management and director of the Center for Identification Technology Research, is the principal investigator for the UA portion of the grant, an estimated $1.5 million.

Burgoon helped the University of Oklahoma team develop its intelligence-related research program. She will lead a UA team that includes Regents' Professor of MIS Jay Nunamaker and professor of MIS Joe Valacich in testing the MACBETH game. 

Researchers in Wisconsin and Michigan and intelligence experts in Washington, D.C. also are playing key roles in the project.

Through game play, the system will highlight the use of a bias, such as confirmation bias, then provide the player with information on and opportunities to practice bias mitigation techniques based on the theoretical model, the Heuristic-Systematic Model of information processing. 

MACBETH provides an interactive learning experience that encourages intrinsic motivation – a key element in the theoretical model – and is expected to be more effective than current methods used to overcome cognitive biases.

The Eller College of Management at the UA is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in entrepreneurship and social responsibility.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program No. 14 among public business schools and three of its programs are among the top 10 among public programs – entrepreneurship, MIS and management.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA full-time program No. 55 in the U.S., and the Evening MBA program at No. 31.

The College leads the nation's business schools in generating grant funds for research. In addition to a full-time MBA program, the Eller College offers an evening MBA program, an accelerated MBA program and the Eller Executive MBA.

The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students on the UA campus in Tucson.