Me and you can often make better decisions than a gang

two brains maek a rightWhen you need to make a decision, do you rely on the gang to help you decide ?

We are programmed to believe two heads are better than one. But are two – or three or five – heads, really better than one ?

This week’s Neurotechnology Tip warns that employing more heads, doesn’t guarantee a better decision, and it can waste time and energy.

Deciding what is best

Researchers from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School set out to test whether more brains, really produced better decisions.

In the study they asked 252 people to guesstimate the answer to a series of demographic type questions. The person either answered the question individually or collaborated with another individual.

Once an initial answer had been given – the researchers then shared the perspectives of several other people and allowed participants to adjust their answer, carefully documenting the final decision.

To motivate participants to make the “right” decision, “right” decisions earned a nice little cash bonus of $ 30, but missing the mark saw the pot of cash dwindle. The extent of the loss was tied to how incorrect the answer was – for every percentage point they were out, they lost one dollar.

Collaborating doesn’t necessarily produce better decision

Two brains working together seemed to improve the odds of getting the answer right. But adding more brains, invariably failed to improve the outcome appreciably.

Part of the problem was when multiple brains reviewed the decision, discussions led to the answer being picked apart in such a way, that the final decision was inferior. Answers arrived at with multiple brains were often found wanting.

Group decisions don’t always add up

Anytime you have to get together and decide, it takes time. And since time is money, in a business environment at least, group decisions cost money as well.

The reality, a group of 10 people is not going to make a decision that is 10 times better. It might actually make a decision that is a couple of times worse.three brains make a wrong

If you’re going to collaborate, it seems two brains are usually better than one. But for each additional brain, the benefit is minor.

Quality decisions

The quality of your life is the sum total of the decisions you make.

Make sure you’re getting input from as many brains as you can, but when it comes time to actually decide, go with one or two brains.

PS. Make sure too decide, decision paralysis kills many dreams !

 The Cost of Collaboration: Why Joint Decision Making Exacerbates Rejection of Outside Information. Psychological Science (2012)  Julia A. Minson and Jennifer S. Mueller.

 To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..

Subscribe to Neurotechnology Tips

Give us a like on facebook

Further reading

video game player sleep deprived brain brainbladder
Fighting aliens in the living room is good for the brain Pulling an all-nighter leaves your brain unable to think straight For big decisions bringing in the bladder to “help” the brain is best

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

This entry was posted in Neurotechnology Tip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Me and you can often make better decisions than a gang [...]

  2. By » Blog Archive » Round up 23 April – 27 April on April 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

    [...] Me and you can often make better decisions than a gang [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>