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British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog
When groups of people get together to make decisions, they often struggle to fulfil their potential. Part of the reason is that they tend to spend more time talking about information that everyone shares rather than learning fresh insights from each other. In a forthcoming paper, Andreas Mojzisch and Stefan Schulz-Hardt have uncovered a new reason groups so often make sub-optimal decisions. The researchers show that when a group of people begin a discussion by sharing their initial preferences, they subsequently devote less attention to the information brought to the table by each member, thus leading the group to fail to reach the optimal decision. The practical implications are clear - if you can, avoid beginning group decision-making sessions with the exchange of members' initial preferences.
I personally don't think groups should meet until they write up their own views in advance. I will strive to focus on the task of "devoting attention to the information brought to the table by each member", maybe the output of the first meeting should be nothing more or less than a summary of all the different viewpoints, and a rough ad-hoc synthesis of all the viewpoints into a whole (however inelegant). And "real" work begins at the SECOND meeting, in a manner where nothing can be swept under the rug, meaning no viewpoint can be discarded.