Guide to identifying and correcting decision making errors in mental disability practice

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Presented is a practical and theoretical guide to help practitioners identify and alleviate decision making errors. Common decision making and judgment errors are inventoried and presented as deviations from the scientific method. Also presented is evidence of judgmental inaccuracies in critical areas. A modus operandi called the 'lab report' method is offered as a way to avoid making some of these errors. The lab report method is a way of conducting forensic evaluations in a more rational and scientific way, in much the same way as a good researcher would conduct a study. Using this method the clinician, like the researcher, uses clearly articulated alternative hypotheses with specifically operationalized measures. Data are collected in a systematic way to test each hypothesis, and consistent feedback is sought. Throughout the paper the scientific method is reviewed; evidence of problems applying it in clinical practice are presented, as are ways of overcoming these problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-575
Number of pages15
JournalBulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994


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