Decision making by on-scene commanders in nuclear emergencies

Margaret Crichton, Rhona Flin, Peter McGeorge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


A study is reported into the cognitive structures that support incident command decision making by the on-scene incident commander in a nuclear emergency response organisation. These cognitive structures assist incident commanders to assess the situation and make decisions. A card-sorting task was conducted with nuclear on-scene incident commanders (OICs) (n=14) and identified that decision making was influenced by four main factors: availability of procedures; uncertainty; typicality of the decision; and advice from others. The results are discussed in relation to findings from other domains, e.g., emergency services and aviation, and emphasise the importance of considering the specific characteristics of the environment in which the emergency occurs. The findings can be used to determine objectives for directed decision making training for OICs on nuclear installations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-166
Number of pages11
JournalCognition, Technology & Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • decision-making
  • training
  • incident command
  • card-sorting tasks
  • cognitive structures
  • categorization


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