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The Wisdom of Crowds (or not)

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

PsyBlog hasĀ  new post titled “Why Groups Fail to Share Information Effectively.” According to the article:

They found that people trying to make decisions in groups spend most of their time telling each other things that everyone already knows. In comparison people are unlikely to bring up new information known only to themselves. The result: poor decisions.

This can have huge ramifications, like in a court case where jurors are faced with delivering a verdict.

I think most people would protest and say, “No, not me. I’m not influenced by other people and I can make my own decisions.” — but this just isn’t the case.

Most people are followers and the study found 3 main reasons why people basically repeat the same info instead of adding something new to the discussion:

1) Memory– Shared information is more memorable + the more people that know this information the greater chance it will be remembered by someone.

2) Pre-judgements- To an extent, people have already made up their minds prior to entering a discussion and will use shared information to back-up their thoughts and biases.

3) Anxiety- Most people would rather be liked than be right. By offering a different opinion or information, people make themselves easy targets for the group to chastise. The anxiety this creates makes then want to conform.

How Can People Be Encouraged to Share Ideas?

Basically, give them more time to discuss, find out who the knowledgeable people are in the group and create a diverse group to begin with who will be more likely to share instead of withhold information.

This is important stuff for marketers, especially to get a good handle on how ideas spread.

Read the rest of the article here.

LINKS:

The Tipping Point Wiki

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Categories: PSYCHOLOGY
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