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Myth Buster: Do Engineers Trust Parametric Models over Their Own Intuition?

Management & Lessons Learned Track

Downloadable Files:

M&LL-12 Valerdi Paper Myth Buster

M&LL-12A Valerdi Paper Myth Buster


This paper explores the question of whether engineers trust parametric models over their own intuition when performing cost estimates. The approach to answering the question is similar to that of the popular television show MythBusters which aims to separate truth from urban legend using controlled experiments.

We performed a controlled experiment with forty systems engineers and discovered that most of them trust their intuition more than a parametric model. This challenges a central assumption in the field of parametrics: that decision makers mainly base their cost estimation decisions on parametric models. We explain how this phenomenon can be scientifically possible based on theories of cognitive decision making.


Ricardo Valerdi
Ricardo Valerdi is a Research Associate at the Lean Aerospace Initiative at MIT and a Lecturer in the Engineering Systems Division. He is a Visiting Associate at the Center for Systems and Software Engineering at USC and a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at the Aerospace Corporation in the Economic & Market Analysis Center.
Formerly he worked as a Systems Engineer at Motorola and at General Instrument Corporation. He earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego, MS and PhD from USC, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Psychology at Harvard University.