Diagnosing Crime and Diagnosing Disease-II: Visual Pattern Perception and Diagnostic Accuracy

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Previously, we reviewed how general cognitive processes might be susceptible to bias across both forensic and clinical fields, and how interdisciplinary comparisons could reduce error. We discuss several examples of clinical tasks which are heavily dependent on visual processing, comparing them to eyewitness identification (EI). We review the “constructive” nature of visual processing, and how contextual factors influence both medical experts and witnesses in decision making and recall. Overall, studies suggest common cognitive factors uniting these visual tasks, in both their strengths and shortcomings. Recently forensic sciences have advocated reducing errors by identifying and controlling nonrelevant information. Such efforts could effectively assist medical diagnosis. We suggest potential remedies for cognitive bias in these tasks. These can generalize across the clinical and forensic domains, including controlling the sequencing of contextual factors. One solution is an agnostic primary reading before incorporation of a complete history and interpretation.

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