March 22, 2011 · by Barb Murphy
In countries half a world away, major changes are happening that will challenge our nation to define or redefine our policies. Keeping pace with a fast-changing world where events can require a rapid, knowledgeable response requires excellent intelligence analysis for decision-making. The U.S. intelligence community (IC) is a complex human enterprise whose success depends on how well the people in it perform their work. Although often aided by sophisticated technologies, these people ultimately rely on their own intellect to identify, synthesize, and communicate the information on which the nation’s security depends. Their role is the pivotal middle point between gathering information and policy making. The IC’s success depends on having trained, motivated, and thoughtful people working within organizations able to understand, value, and coordinate their capabilities. Intelligence analysts serve our nation well in a challenging field. The behavioral and social sciences can make significant contributions to support these people, thus improving their already good work in a demanding area.
For a century or more, the behavioral and social sciences have studied how individuals and groups perform fundamental intellectual processes. That research has found that people perform some of these tasks much better than others. In some cases, the research has demonstrated ways to overcome weaknesses (e.g., through training or structuring analytical processes); in other cases, the research has identified problems that reflect limits to analysis that are important for decision makers to understand as aspects of the uncertainties that they face. Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences recommends that the U.S. intelligence community adopt methods, theories, and findings from the behavioral and social sciences as a way to improve its analyses.
A companion book, Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations, is a collection of individually authored papers, which presents the more detailed evidentiary base for the authoring committee’s conclusions and recommendations. The papers in this collection represent the individual work of committee members summarizing research on topics central to the IC’s mission.
Tom Fingar, a member of the committee and former Deputy Director of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, gave his perspective on this topic and these reports.
“More money, more collection, and more analysts will not enable the IC to satisfy 21st century requirements for intelligence support. Throwing money at the problem, even if that were affordable, and telling analysts to “work harder” cannot provide the insights and accuracy needed to reduce uncertainty about developments affecting US interests. We must “work smarter” by applying insights and scientific findings from the behavioral and social sciences. The lessons and recommendations summarized in these studies are timely, address both universal and unique aspects of intelligence analysis, and will be invaluable to IC analysts and managers alike.”
These titles and others from the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education show the contributions that the social and behavioral sciences can make to evaluations and improvement of our national security processes.
|Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences
The intelligence community (IC) plays an essential role in the national security of the United States. Decision makers rely on IC analyses and predictions to reduce uncertainty and to provide warnings about everything from international diplomatic relations…
|Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations
The U.S. intelligence community (IC) is a complex human enterprise whose success depends on how well the people in it perform their work. Although often aided by sophisticated technologies, these people ultimately rely on their own intellect to identify,..
|Field Evaluation in the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Context: Workshop Summary|
|Behavioral Modeling and Simulation: From Individuals to Societies
Today’s military missions have shifted away from fighting nation states using conventional weapons toward combating insurgents and terrorist networks in a battlespace in which the attitudes and behaviors of civilian noncombatants may be the primary effects…
|Human Behavior in Military Contexts
Human behavior forms the nucleus of military effectiveness. Humans operating in the complex military system must possess the knowledge, skills, abilities, aptitudes, and temperament to perform their roles effectively in a reliable and predictable manner, and…