Studying Complex Decision Making in Natural Settings: Using a Head-Mounted Video Camera to Study Competitive Orienteering Academic Article uri icon


  • Head-mounted video recording is described as a potentially powerful method for studying decision making in natural settings. Most alternative data-collection procedures are intrusive and disruptive of the decision-making processes involved while conventional video-recording procedures are either impractical or impossible. As a severe test of the robustness of the methodology we studied the decision making of 6 experienced orienteers who carried a head-mounted light-weight video camera as they navigated, running as fast as possible, around a set of control points in a forest. Use of the Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test indicated that compared with free recall, video-assisted recall evoked (a) significantly greater experiential immersion in the recall, (b) significantly more specific recollections of navigation-related thoughts and feelings, (c) significantly more realizations of map and terrain features and aspects of running speed which were not noticed at the time of actual competition, and (d) significantly greater insight into specific navigational errors and the intrusion of distracting thoughts into the decision-making process. Potential applications of the technique in (a) the environments of emergency services, (b) therapeutic contexts, (c) education and training, and (d) sports psychology are discussed.

publication date

  • December 1994