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Confidence matching in group decision-making

Bang, D; Aitchison, L; Moran, R; Herce Castanon, S; Rafiee, B; Mahmoodi, A; Lau, JYF; ... Summerfield, C; + view all (2017) Confidence matching in group decision-making. [Letter]. Nature Human Behaviour , 1 , Article 0117. 10.1038/s41562-017-0117. Green open access

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Abstract

Most important decisions in our society are made by groups, from cabinets and commissions to boards and juries. When disagreement arises, opinions expressed with higher confidence tend to carry more weight1,2 . Although an individual’s degree of confidence often reflects the probability that their opinion is correct3,4, it can also vary with task-irrelevant psychological, social, cultural and demographic factors5–9. Therefore, to combine their opinions optimally, group members must adapt to each other’s individual biases and express their confidence according to a common metric10–12. However, solving this communication problem is computationally difficult. Here we show that pairs of individuals making group decisions meet this challenge by using a heuristic strategy that we call ‘confidence matching’: they match their communicated confidence so that certainty and uncertainty is stated in approximately equal measure by each party. Combining the behavioural data with computational modelling, we show that this strategy is effective when group members have similar levels of expertise, and that it is robust when group members have no insight into their relative levels of expertise. Confidence matching is, however, sub-optimal and can cause miscommunication about who is more likely to be correct. This herding behaviour is one reason why groups can fail to make good decisions10–12.

Type: Article
Title: Confidence matching in group decision-making
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0117
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0117
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: 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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Gatsby Computational Neurosci Unit
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1561091
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