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Equality bias impairs collective decision-making across cultures

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Safavi,  S
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Mahmoodi, A., Bang, D., Olsen, K., Zhao, Y., Shi, Z., Broberg, K., et al. (2015). Equality bias impairs collective decision-making across cultures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(12), 3835-3840. doi:10.1073/pnas.1421692112.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-474E-8
Abstract
We tend to think that everyone deserves an equal say in a debate. This seemingly innocuous assumption can be damaging when we make decisions together as part of a group. To make optimal decisions, group members should weight their differing opinions according to how competent they are relative to one another; whenever they differ in competence, an equal weighting is suboptimal. Here, we asked how people deal with individual differences in competence in the context of a collective perceptual decision-making task. We developed a metric for estimating how participants weight their partner’s opinion relative to their own and compared this weighting to an optimal benchmark. Replicated across three countries (Denmark, Iran, and China), we show that participants assigned nearly equal weights to each other’s opinions regardless of true differences in their competence—even when informed by explicit feedback about their competence gap or under monetary incentives to maximize collective accuracy. This equality bias, whereby people behave as if they are as good or as bad as their partner, is particularly costly for a group when a competence gap separates its members.