Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 183–187

Systematic errors in medical decision making:

Judgment limitations


  • Neal V. Dawson
  • Hal R. Arkes

DOI: 10.1007/BF02596149

Cite this article as:
Dawson, N.V. & Arkes, H.R. J Gen Intern Med (1987) 2: 183. doi:10.1007/BF02596149


Much of medical practice involves the exercise of such basic cognitive tasks as estimating probabilities and synthesizing information. Scientists studying cognitive processes have identified impediments to accurate performance on these tasks. Together the impediments foster “cognitive bias.” Five factors that can detract from accurate probability estimation and three that impair accurate information synthesis are discussed. Examples of all eight factors are illustrated by reference to published articles. The authors suggest ways to minimize the negative influences of these factors.

Key words

cognitive biasdecision making

Copyright information

© Society for Research and Education in Primary Care Internal Medicine 1987