The "analysis of competing hypotheses" in intelligence analysis

Dhami, Mandeep K. ORCID logoORCID:, Belton, Ian and Mandel, David R. (2019) The "analysis of competing hypotheses" in intelligence analysis. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 33 (6) . pp. 1080-1090. ISSN 0888-4080 [Article] (doi:10.1002/acp.3550)

PDF - Published version (with publisher's formatting)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0.

Download (229kB) | Preview
[img] PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only

Download (635kB)


The intelligence community uses ‘structured analytic techniques’ to help analysts think critically and avoid cognitive bias. However, little evidence exists of how techniques are applied and whether they are effective. We examined the use of the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) – a technique designed to reduce ‘confirmation bias’. Fifty intelligence analysts were randomly assigned to use ACH or not when completing a hypothesis testing task that had probabilistic ground truth. Data on analysts’ judgment processes and conclusions was collected using written protocols that were then coded for statistical analyses. We found that ACH-trained analysts did not follow all of the steps of ACH. There was mixed evidence for ACH’s ability to reduce confirmation bias, and we observed that ACH may increase judgment inconsistency and error. It may be prudent for the intelligence community to consider the conditions under which ACH would prove useful, and to explore alternatives.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 26347
Notes on copyright: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of National Defence.
Published version: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Mandeep Dhami
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2019 08:12
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:45

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.