This research explores how the framing of tasks affects an individual’s psychological employment of thinking-style balance in performing those tasks. The methodology utilizes multivariant experimentation with military officers. The research analyzes the impact of how a commander frames a problem to a subordinate. More specifically, the work seeks to parse the effect of linear (analytical) framing, nonlinear (balanced) framing, or no additional frame (control). There were six key findings: military decision makers have a baseline linear thinking bias; a majority of the participants fell below the threshold for being moderately versatile thinkers; American participants had a stronger baseline linear bias than international participants; the impact of problem framing on overall thinking style was minimal; the linear treatment group experienced significantly lower emotional thinking scores; and the linear treatment group took significantly longer to complete the experiment. It was concluded that military decision makers have a strong linear bias that is not easily influenced by problem framing. It was also concluded that linear framing has a significant impact on decision-making time and emotional thinking. In an effort to reduce the military decision maker linear bias, it is recommended that professional military education include a significant increase in nonlinear thought processes, such as design thinking. It is also recommended that incentive structures be updated to create and promote an organizational culture that supports a linear/nonlinear balanced thinking approach to problem solving.
Blanken, Leo Gartner, Scott
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Science in Defense Analysis
Defense Analysis (DA)
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.