Books Monographs

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis

By Richards J. Heuer, Jr. (1999)

Author’s Preface

This volume pulls together and republishes, with some editing, updating, and additions, articles written during 1978–86 for internal use within the CIA Directorate of Intelligence. Four of the articles also appeared in the Intelligence Community journal Studies in Intelligence during that time frame. The information is relatively timeless and still relevant to the never-ending quest for better analysis.

The articles are based on reviewing cognitive psychology literature concerning how people process  information to make judgments on incomplete and ambiguous information. I selected the experiments and
findings that seem most relevant to intelligence analysis and most in need of communication to  intelligence analysts. I then translated the technical reports into language that intelligence analysts can understand and interpreted the relevance of these findings to the problems intelligence analysts face.

The result is a compromise that may not be wholly satisfactory to either research psychologists or  intelligence analysts. Cognitive psychologists and decision analysts may complain of oversimplifications while the non-psychologist reader may have to absorb some new terminology. Unfortunately, mental processes are so complex that discussion of them does require some specialized vocabulary. Intelligence analysts who have read and thought seriously about the nature of their craft should have no diffculty with this book. Those who are plowing virgin ground may require serious effort.

I wish to thank all those who contributed comments and suggestions on the draft of this book: Jack Davis (who also wrote the Introduction); four former Directorate of Intelligence (DI) analysts whose names  cannot be cited here; my current colleague, Prof. Theodore Sarbin; and my editor at CIA’s Center for the  Study of Intelligence, Hank Appelbaum. All made many substantive and editorial suggestions that helped greatly to make this a better book.

—Richards J. Heuer, Jr. (1999)