Decision-making biases and doctor error: Overconfidence by Prof Jill Klein

Posted on July 25, 2019

Professor Jill Klein is an esteemed academic and award-winning author with more than 30 years of teaching experience. Her specialities are resilience, decision-making, and managerial judgement. She has taught senior executives and MBA students in top-tier business schools around the world, including Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, INSEAD, and Duke University. She teaches leadership for the Melbourne Medical School’s Master in Clinical Education programme at the University of Melbourne and is leading the design for a new specialist Certificate in Clinical Leadership programme. In addition, Jill has led workshops in the public health sector and pharmaceutical companies. 

Author Quotes:  

Overconfidence bias is ubiquitous. Most of us suffer from it; it’s having a greater degree of confidence in our knowledge, forecasts, etc. than is justified.

When we’re making important decisions, we don’t want to think we’re right when we’re not right and do that over and over and over again.

Consulting with others, getting other opinions is huge, but a critical thing is – don’t tell them what you think first. There are tremendous social norms that when someone gives an opinion you should agree with them.

Summary and slides:  

Professor Klein introduces the first part of her presentation with a look at decision-making biases, in particular, doctor error. 

She demonstrates how overconfidence is apparent in many groups, and how we tend to use our own confidence levels as a guide to whether we are right or wrong in situations. 

Moving on to discuss some remedies for overconfidence, she presents an overview of how to implement judgements based on separating ‘deciding’ from ‘doing’. 

Professor Klein ends this first video excerpt with the question of what we need to consider when making important decisions. 

Take-Home Points:  

  • To avoid errors through overconfidence, consult with others without giving your opinion first. 
  • Overconfidence decreases when you consider multiple options. 
  • Independence of judgement is vital to avoid expectations based on someone else’s overconfidence. 
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