Histopathologists make diagnostic decisions that are thought to be based on pattern recognition, likely informed by cue-based associations formed in memory, a process known as cue utilisation. Typically, the cases presented to the histopathologist have already been classified as 'abnormal' by clinical examination and/or other diagnostic tests. This results in a high disease prevalence, the potential for 'abnormality priming', and a response bias leading to false positives on normal cases. This study investigated whether higher cue utilisation is associated with a reduction in positive response bias in the diagnostic decisions of histopathologists. Data were collected from eighty-two histopathologists who completed a series of demographic and experience-related questions and the histopathology edition of the Expert Intensive Skills Evaluation 2.0 (EXPERTise 2.0) to establish behavioural indicators of context-related cue utilisation. They also completed a separate, diagnostic task comprising breast histopathology images where the frequency of abnormality was manipulated to create a high disease prevalence context for diagnostic decisions relating to normal tissue. Participants were assigned to higher or lower cue utilisation groups based on their performance on EXPERTise 2.0. When the effects of experience were controlled, higher cue utilisation was specifically associated with a greater accuracy classifying normal images, recording a lower positive response bias. This study suggests that cue utilisation may play a protective role against response biases in histopathology settings.
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- cue utilisation
- response bias