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Social influence protects collective decision making from equality bias

Hertz, U; Romand-Monnier, M; Kyriakopoulou, K; (2016) Social influence protects collective decision making from equality bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance , 42 (2) pp. 164-172. 10.1037/xhp0000145. Green open access

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Abstract

A basic tenet of research on wisdom of the crowds – and key assumption of Condorcet’s Jury Theorem – is the independence of voters’ opinions before votes are aggregated. However, we often look for others’ opinions before casting our vote. Such social influence can push groups towards herding, leading to “madness of the crowds”. To investigate the role of social influence in joint decision making, we had dyads of participants perform a visual odd-ball search task together. In the Independent (IND) condition participants initially made a private decision. If disagreeing, discussion and collective decision ensued. In the Influence (INF) condition no private decisions were made and collective decision was immediately negotiated. Dyads that did not accrue collective benefit under IND condition improved with added social influence under INF condition. In Experiment 2, covertly, we added noise to one of the dyad members’ visual search display. The resulting increased heterogeneity in dyad members’ performances impaired the dyadic performance under IND condition (Bahrami et al., 2010). Importantly, dyadic performance improved with social influence under INF, replicating Experiment 1. Further analyses revealed that under IND condition, dyads exercised equality bias (Mahmoodi et al., 2015) by granting undue credit to the less reliable partner. Under INF condition, however, the more reliable partner (correctly) dominated the joint decisions. While social influence may impede collective success under ideal conditions, our results demonstrate how it can help the group members overcome factors such as equality bias, which could potentially lead to catastrophic failure.

Type: Article
Title: Social influence protects collective decision making from equality bias
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000145
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000145
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 American Psychological Association. This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Keywords: Social Influence, Wisdom of the Crowds, Social Psychology, Collective Decision Making
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470449
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