Nadira Faulmüller, Andreas Mojzisch, Rudolf Kerschreiter, and Stefan Schulz-Hardt (2012)

Do you want to convince me or to be understood?: Preference-consistent information sharing and its motivational determinants

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(12):1684-1696.

In two experiments, evidence is provided for a fundamental discussion asymmetry, namely, preference-consistent information sharing. Despite being in a dyadic situation requiring open information exchange and being given no incentive to do so, participants communicated more information that supported their individually preferred decision alternative than information that contradicted it. Preference-consistent information sharing was not caused by biased recall and occurred in written as well as in face-to-face communication. Moreover, the authors tested whether preference-consistent information sharing was influenced by statements by bogus discussion partners indicating that they held a congruent versus incongruent preference to the participants' preference and that they understood vs did not understand the participants' preference. Results revealed that when partners stated that they understood the participants' preference, subsequent preference-consistent information sharing was considerably reduced. This indicates that a motivation to be understood by others might be an important driving force underlying preference-consistent information sharing.