Date of Award
Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)
Public Policy and Administration
Ramona-Elena F. Stone, PhD, MPH
Karen J. Mitchell, PhD
Angela Kline, PhD
Humans tend to simplify complex decisions by employing cognitive bias(es). Cognitively biased decision-making by public administrators can be adversely consequential for public organizations, public employees, and the public interest. Given the historical scope of experimental research on cognitive bias in the social and physical sciences, public administration scholars should continue to advance such research across various public sectors. This dissertation study responded to the long-ago call of Herbert Simon for empirical research situated in specific public or political contexts. This qual-QUAN mixed-method study had two main aims: (1) explore decisions that K-12 public education administrators make in personnel management and organizational policymaking; and (2) observe and mitigate the influences of anchoring bias and attribute framing bias in decision-making by these administrators. Qualitative results indicate that school district superintendents and school principals make decisions in highly collaborative contexts. This data informed the quantitative survey-in-the-field. Quantitative results indicate that anchoring bias significantly influences personnel management decisions, and that attribute framing bias significantly influences organizational policy decisions. Also, the consider-the-opposite (COS) intervention significantly mitigated anchoring bias and attribute framing bias about 67% of the time. Finally, for three of six anchoring bias scenarios, participant age and COS feedback quality significantly predicted COS interventional influence. And, for four of six attribute framing bias scenarios, COS feedback quality significantly predicted COS interventional influence. Recommendations for research and practice are advanced, including debiasing procedures implemented on the organizational level.
Mesaros, Julie K., "Unbounding Rationality: Observing and Mitigating K-12 Public Education Administrators’ Cognitive Bias" (2023). West Chester University Doctoral Projects. 219.