Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Philip E. Tetlock
Accountability is often presented as a panacea for behavioral ailments. This one-size-fits-all approach to a multi-dimensional construct ignores a key component of the effectiveness of accountability systems: situational context. Situational contexts such as highly stochastic environments (e.g., financial markets, world politics) and politically-charged domains (e.g., national security decision-making, domestic policy) form accountability boundary conditions, beyond which previous experimental effects may not generalize. In a series of studies, I explore the relatively under-explored frontiers of accountability effects, including those that apply to highly stochastic environments; politically-charged outcomes, where the tendency towards motivated reasoning dominates; and rapidly evolving states of information, where one’s ability to update one’s beliefs has serious implications for the quality of one’s judgments and decisions. In this series of studies, I find that accountability effects only appeared under certain conditions. In general, holding people accountable for their judgments did not improve performance on highly stochastic or politically-charged tasks—in fact, it sometimes made performance worse. However, certain types of accountability were able to boost performance in some contexts. These studies demonstrate the value of incorporating situational context into accountability experiments.
Chang, Welton, "Accounting For The Situational Context Of Accountability" (2017). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 2728.