A Psychological Framework to Enable Effective Cognitive Processing in the Design of Emergency Management Information Systems


  • Christina M. Steiner
  • Alexander Nussbaumer
  • Karen Neville
  • Dietrich Albert


emergency management, information system, psychology, decision making, information processing, decision support, design principles, system design


Human cognitive processing and decision making are essential aspects in emergency management. Emergency situations imply additional demands to information processing. To meaningfully support decision makers in emergencies, a comprehensive understanding of the human perception and decision making processes and their underlying principles is required in the design of Emergency Management Information Systems (EMIS). This paper presents a psychological framework that models the stages and components of decision making in the context of emergency management. To this end, psychological research on human perception and information processing, knowledge and competence modelling, human judgement and decision making, individual and situational factors, stress, and self‑regulation are identified as important compents of the framework. The psychological framework represents a comprehensive model of decision making of emergency managers, for a better understanding of the involved cognitive processes and influencing factors on the person level and on the context level. The paper posits the framework as a guide in the identification of requirements for emergency managers during systems analysis. This comprises systematically describing decision tasks in emergency situations and identifying needs for supporting them. The knowledge on human perception and decision making represented by the framework can also be used to inform the user interface design of the EMIS. It may also inform the evaluation of EMIS as it provides a theoretically founded representation of relevant aspects of human‑computer interaction, which facilitates the identification of success indciators to be addressed in user‑centred evaluation. The framework furthermore supports the design and implementation of training programmes through the differentiation and modelling of knowledge and competence relevant in emergency decision making. To demonstrate the application of the psychological framework in the design, development, and testing of EMIS a set of concrete design principles as well as exemplary paper prototypes applying these principles are presented.



1 Jul 2017