Actuarial Judgment

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  • A decision that is made by applying a particular set of rules, based on empirically based statistical relations between predictor variables and an outcome variable. The actuarial approach to behavioral judgment and decision making is often contrasted with the clinical judgment approach, in which decisions are based on the unsystematic and subjective mental processes of a human judge. Research shows that, across a multitude of decision-making domains (e.g., college grades, criminal recidivism, surgical outcomes), actuarial models are more accurate in making predictions about highly complex outcomes than are trained human judges. For more information, see Dawes, Faust, and Meehl (1989).

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