Comparative efficiency of informal (subjective, impressionistic) and formal (mechanical, algorithmic) prediction procedures: The Clinical-Statistical Controversy

William M Grove, Paul E. Meehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

770 Scopus citations

Abstract

Given a data set about an individual or a group (e.g., interviewer ratings, life history or demographic facts, test results, self-descriptions), there are two modes of data combination for a predictive or diagnostic purpose. The clinical method relies on human judgment that is based on informal contemplation and, sometimes, discussion with others (e.g., case conferences). The mechanical method involves a formal, algorithmic, objective procedure (e.g., equation) to reach the decision. Empirical comparisons of the accuracy of the two methods (136 studies over a wide range of predictands) show that the mechanical method is almost invariably equal to or superior to the clinical method: Common antiactuarial arguments are rebutted, possible causes of widespread resistance to the comparative research are offered, and policy implications of the statistical method's superiority are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-323
Number of pages31
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1996

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