University of Oulu

Antti Kamunen, Pentti Haddington, Iira Rautiainen, “It seems to be some kind of an accident”: Perception and team decision-making in time critical situations, Journal of Pragmatics, Volume 195, 2022, Pages 7-30, ISSN 0378-2166,

“It seems to be some kind of an accident” : perception and team decision-making in time critical situations

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Author: Kamunen, Antti1; Haddington, Pentti1; Rautiainen, Iira1
Organizations: 1Research Unit for Languages and Literature (English), Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, P.O.Box 1000, FI-90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-16


This study examines the decision-making processes of military observer trainee teams as they encounter a simulated, ‘life-threatening’ incident during a car-patrolling exercise. The study takes place in the context of a course which trains military officers to serve in UN peacekeeping operations as unarmed military observers. The data consist of audio-video recordings of eight trainee teams inside and around their patrol cars during a patrolling exercise, as well as of ethnographic field notes and observations. We use conversation analysis to examine what happens between the first noticing of the incident and the decision regarding the next action, and how the trainees work together to form a diagnosis of the situation and choose the appropriate action. The results show how the trainees make a first general interpretation on the situation immediately after its initial noticing and make visible their assessment of the incident site as either safe or unsafe to approach. These interpretations are crucial, as an incorrect interpretation often leads to action that puts the team in danger. The results also show how earlier shared events can affect the decision-making process, as they are indicated as points of comparison on which a team may base their interpretation of the current situation.

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Series: Journal of pragmatics
ISSN: 0378-2166
ISSN-E: 1879-1387
ISSN-L: 0378-2166
Volume: 195
Pages: 7 - 30
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2022.04.001
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (grant numbers 287219, 322199).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287219
Detailed Information: 287219 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
322199 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (