The Impact of Closed-mindedness on the Assessment of Threat: An Empirical Study

Colin A Wastell*, Nicole Weeks, Alexander Wearing, Piers Duncan, Wajma Ebrahimi
Psychology Department, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia

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© 2013 Wastell et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Psychology Department, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia; Tel: +61 (0)2 98508600; Fax:+61 (0)2 98508062; E-mail:


In the past decade official reports into intelligence failures have asserted that analysts are subject to the effects of everyday cognitive limitations. The present study examined the influence of an individual's inclination toward closedmindedness on a computer administered simulated intelligence analysis task. Results indicate that several components of closed-mindedness as measured by the need for cognitive closure scale [NFC] significantly predicted the assessed level of threat posed to and general attitude toward a visiting government delegation by a foreign nation's population. Most significantly higher scores on the NFC subscale ‘need for predictability’ were associated with higher scores on the initial assessed threat level. This effect remained after controlling for the amount of information accessed. The implications of these findings for the conduct of intelligence analysis are discussed.

Keywords: Intelligence analysis, Closed-mindedness, Need for Cognitive Closure.