• Decision Support Systems


Decision support systems (DSSs) are more complex than most other traditional decision-aid systems. For what types of problems are they more effective, and what design characteristics make them more effective? The laboratory experiment reported here examined the effect of three design characteristics of these systems in the context of decision makers faced with ill-structured problems. The characteristics were presence or absence of decision-aid heuristics, degree of interaction between the user and the system, and whether or not the system was computerized. The dependent variables were (1) quality of user performance, (2) user productivity of ideas, (3) user confidence in the quality of his/her performance, (4) user satisfaction with the decision aid or support system, (5) changes in user attitude toward the problem addressed, and (6) changes in user attitude toward computers.

Use of heuristics and increased interaction had positive effects on decision quality, user productivity, and attitude toward computers; they had negative effects on user confidence, satisfaction, and attitude toward the problem addressed. Whether or not the system was computerized did not have a significant effect on any dependent variable. The findings concerning negative effects, in particular, suggest the need for research on the design of heuristics for addressing ill-structured problems—heuristics that will deliver the positive but not the negative effects observed in this study. The findings also suggest the need for research on how to benefit from computers in the context of solving ill-structured problems.