Problem Structuring Aids for Quantitative Estimation

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Vol. 4, pp. 101-116, 1991

15 Pages Posted: 9 May 2011

Date Written: June 1990


An important part of decision making in many contexts is the estimation of numerical values for uncertain quantities, such as the projected costs of a development project or the number of people who use illegal drugs. In previous research, estimation accuracy for such quantities was found to be improved by algorithmic decomposition. The present study examines (a) the estimation performance of individuals using extended algorithms in which component estimates are produced by multiple methods, and (b) the effectiveness of algorithms produced by individuals after receiving training in algorithmic decomposition. The extended algorithm approach yielded some improvement in estimation performance. Subjects trained in algorithmic decomposition were able to produce algorithms, the effectiveness of which were dependent upon the presence of misinformation about components of the quantity to be estimated. The results are discussed in terms of the information processing demands imposed by detailed problem structuring.

Keywords: Decomposition, Quantitative Estimation, Human Judgment

Suggested Citation

MacGregor, Donald G. and Lichtenstein, Sarah, Problem Structuring Aids for Quantitative Estimation (June 1990). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Vol. 4, pp. 101-116, 1991. Available at SSRN:

Donald G. MacGregor (Contact Author)

MacGregor-Bates, Inc. ( email )

1010 Villard Ave.
Cottage Grove, OR 97424
United States
(541) 942-5727 (Phone)

Sarah Lichtenstein

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States

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