Effects of domain experience in the stock–flow failure

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Misperceptions of stock and flow relationships are pervasive and an important problem to solve in system dynamics. Prior studies have shown that individuals perform poorly on accumulation problems, even when considering relatively simple systems, an effect termed the Stock–Flow (SF) failure. This study examines the effects of domain experience in overcoming the SF failure. We compared performance of medical students and undergraduates with no medical education on accumulation problems in medical and general domains. Medical students performed better than undergraduates only in some of the problems (including the general domain problems), and they performed equally poorly as undergraduates in problems that required medical domain experience. There was no correlation between performance in the stock and flow problems and either duration of medical education or age. Thus we conclude that domain experience is not a strong indicator for overcoming the SF failure.




Published In

System Dynamics Review , 26, 4, 347-354.