To Protect Team Cohesion, We Treat All Opinions Equally

Even though some people tend to be right more often than others, we often treat the opinions of everyone equally.

Even though some people tend to be right more often than others, we often treat the opinions of everyone equally, generally moving toward a middle position where consensus wins out over the most correct vision.

That's the conclusion of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which measured how pairs of individuals from across the globe reached conclusions when one person consistently had the right answer more often. The study, which spanned the cultures of China, Denmark, and Iran, is explained by Chris Mooney at The Washington Post.

"In the experiment ... two separate people view two successive images, which are almost exactly the same, but not quite. In one of the images, there is an 'oddball target' that looks slightly different. The images flash by very fast, and the two individuals have to decide which one, the first or the second, contained the target. ... [T]he two individuals didn’t merely have to identify the target. They also had to agree."

You might expect that over the 256 trials each pair experienced, the less accurate group member would favor the views of the more accurate member. But that did not happen. Instead, the worse group member tended to overestimate their view and the more accurate member underestimated their own.

Researchers attempted to tip the scales by giving the more accurate member even more correct responses and then offering cash rewards for reaching the most accurate consensus. But neither strategy did away with the "equality bias."

This is likely due to the importance of preserving team cohesion at the expense of individual members. Groups are capable of achieving more in the long term and keeping them cohesive preserves social networks for future tasks. As international business consultant Stephen Miles explains, creating a team that works well together should be the top priority for any team leader or business manager:

"What CEOs have to grapple with is how do you create a sense of team; how do you create a sense of cohesion and leadership that isn’t sort of — that is better than the individual because in order, by definition, to be a team, you need to be doing more than each individual member of that team and companies need that, so from a CEO perspective, a couple of things are really important."

Read more at The Washington Post.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less