User test with computer tool for analysis of multiple hypotheses


  • Magdalena Granåsen
  • Peter Svenmarck
  • Johanna Von Feilitzen
  • Maja Karasalo
  • Tove Gustavi
  • Robert Forsgren

Publish date: 2014-07-01

Report number: FOI-R--3918--SE

Pages: 41

Written in: Swedish


  • Morphological Analysis
  • Analysis of Competing Hypotheses
  • analytical software tools
  • hypothesis testing


Hyppo is an analysis tool developed by FOI to support the process of generating and evaluating a large set of hypotheses. This report discusses the approach to, and the outcome of, two user studies conducted in order to study usability of Hyppo, as well as to identify short term and long term requirements for future releases. Hyppo combines two established analytical methods, Morphological Analysis and Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH). Morphological analysis is often used to specify and analyze possible future developments for so called wicked problems. During the morphological analysis process a morphological chart, or matrix, is created. The matrix includes a number of dimensions and a set of states for each dimension. In Hyppo, the matrix is used to generate hypotheses for the actual analysis problem. A hypothesis in Hyppo is composed of one state from each of the selected dimensions. As a simple example, we can consider a model for a forensic analysis with the dimensions culprit, weapon and motive. A specific hypothesis for this model could be "the culprit Lee Harvey Oswald with the weapon Colt Holster Pistol and the motive political terrorism". ACH is a methodology for systematic assessment of a set of hypotheses, based on how the available information supports or contradicts each hypothesis in the set. In Hyppo, an adjustment of standard ACH is introduced, where information is connected to specific states in the morphological chart, rather than to entire hypotheses. Since a chart consisting of m × n states will generate a set of nm possible hypotheses, the analysis is facilitated by introducing this implicit procedure for hypothesis assessment. Participants of the first of the two user studies were analysts at FOI. The study was conducted during three workshops, with two participants on each occasion. The second user study was carried out as part of a more extensive analysis workshop with ten participants from the Swedish Armed Forces. A key future requirement identified was the ability to accommodate uncertainties in the analysis, for instance by means of expressing the accuracy, reliability and relevance of information introduced into the analysis. This was stressed by all participants. The overall testimonial was however favorable; the participants saw several benefits with this type of software and found the user interface appealing in its simplicity.