Group think, false consensus, and confirmation bias the trifecta for bad decision making

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Game Theory, Psychology

Group think and false-consensus compounded by the presence of confirmation bias can be a very frustrating in a decision making environment. In a business setting it is common for group think to occur as the fear of feather ruffling and desire to appease others  creates problematic conformity at the cost of independent critical thinking. Groups that then come to an immediate conforming opinion assume that this quick alignment can only be because the decision was simply the natural solution, they then project their ideals onto the wider audience under the assumption that their opinions are shared under the false-consensus phenomenon. Lastly the group seeks out evidence that reinforces their beliefs while selectively ignoring information that contradicts them.

Group think

Group think is the problem that occurs when the desire for harmonious decision making hinders the group’s ability to critically think and assess alternative views.

False-consensus

False-consensus is the problem that arises from people’s tendencies to assume that they are the epitome of normality and that the majority of people share the same beliefs and values as they do.

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the problem that arises where people selectively acknowledges information that reinforces their beliefs and values or selectively ignores information that contradicts their beliefs and values.

Final remarks

For a business to stamp out these traits it needs to come from the top, opposition should not be punished simply as a matter of pride and it needs to be made clear that questioning and contradicting those around you is not only acceptable but expected as part of a 360 sanity check of business decisions. Staff should also be encouraged to widen their horizons and understand the strategic objectives of the organisation, applying critical thinking around how decisions line up with strategic direction.

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