Stefan Schulz-Hardt, Marc Jochims and Dieter Frey

Productive conflict in group decision making: Genuine and contrived dissent as strategies to counteract biased information seeking.

Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes

Decision-making groups in organizations are often expected to function as a 'think tank' and to perform 'reality testing' to detect the best alternative. A biased search for information supporting the group's favored alternative impairs a group's ability to fulfill these requirements. In a two-factorial experiment with 201 employees and managers from various economic and public organizations, genuine and contrived dissent were investigated as counterstrategies to biased information seeking. Genuine dissent was manipulated by forming three-person groups whose members either all favored the same alternative individually (homogeneous groups) or consisted of a minority and a majority faction with regard to their favored alternative (heterogeneous groups). Contrived dissent was varied by the use or nonuse of the 'devil's advocacy' technique. The results demonstrate that heterogeneity was more effective in preventing a confirmatory information-seeking bias than devil's advocacy was. Confidence was identified as an important mediator. Implications for the design of the interventions aimed at facilitating reality testing in group decision making are discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Accession Number: 6967967; Schulz-Hardt, Stefan 1; Email Address:; Jochims, Marc 2; Frey, Dieter 1; Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Social Psychology Unit, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.; 2: WHU Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management, Koblenz, Germany.; Issue Info: Jul2002, Vol. 88 Issue 2, p563; Thesaurus Term: Decision making; Thesaurus Term: Group decision making; Thesaurus Term: Organizational behavior; Thesaurus Term: Teams in the workplace; Thesaurus Term: Management science; Subject Term: Social groups; Author-Supplied Keyword: Devil's advocacy; Author-Supplied Keyword: Dissent; Author-Supplied Keyword: Information seeking; Author-Supplied Keyword: Minority influence; Number of Pages: 24p; Illustrations: 1 Diagram, 2 Charts, 1 Graph; Document Type: Article