This chapter describes some of the striking results of application of social judgment theory (SJT) to medical judgment. Clinical judgment traditionally has been considered an intuitive process whereby the physician combines patient history, new observations, and test results to form a diagnosis or plan of treatment. Medical judgments are characterized by uncertainty, subtle clues, and soft data. Judgment can be studied in different areas of medicine, the diagnosis, and in management of depression. Judgment in psychiatry is often thought to involve a high degree of the “art” of medicine, and as such, is a fertile ground for studying variation in physician judgment. One of the contributions of social judgment theory to medical judgment research has been to identify factors important to physicians in making clinical decisions. Policy capturing may identify heavily weighted clinical variables that would not have been found had the investigators relied on clinicians self reports. In many judgment settings, it is difficult if not impossible to determine the correct outcome of a given case.
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