Leverage points to strengthen individual decision-making in the face of complexity

    Should lockdown measures be extended or lifted? Which sustainable transportation technology should be subsidized today to be most likely to power vehicles in 30 years?

    The outcomes of policy decisions on any of these questions are affected by a myriad of factors - many of which are not in the control of policy-makers. This presents policy-makers tasked with these decisions with a high degree of uncertainty. To make matters worse, policy issues can evolve quickly and in unexpected ways, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. Dealing with complex issues, thus, requires policy-makers to maintain a high level of focus and flexibility to carefully decide on the most appropriate course of action and adapt their decisions as issues evolve.

    This project aims to shed light on the effectiveness of interventions to improve an individual’s capacity for the type of conscious awareness that is required to maintain a high level of reflection even when acting quickly: computer-based cognitive training. While the literature on such programs is almost two decades old, important questions regarding their effectiveness remain - despite the publication of several meta-analyses. By conducting an umbrella review of existing meta-analysis, we provide an accessible overview of the findings and consolidate empirical analyses on the factors that might drive incongruencies. As a result, this project enables institutions to make more informed judgements on whether cognitive training is a suitable tool to support policy-makers in their difficult job.