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Hidden consequences of the group-serving bias: Causal attributions and the quality of group decision making

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  • Goncalo, Jack A.
  • Duguid, Michelle M.

Abstract

A long stream of research in attribution theory suggests that groups are biased toward attributing their success to factors that are internal to their group. However, the existing research has confounded two types of attributions that are both internal to the group, but theoretically distinct: (1) attributions that differentiate between the contributions made by each individual group member and (2) attributions that focus on the group as a whole. This dichotomy is important because, drawing on theories of social influence, we predict that different types of attributions will have different consequences for the quality of group decision making. In Experiment 1, individually focused attributions for past success caused groups to consider more divergent alternatives prior to making a shared decision. In Experiment 2, individually focused attributions for past success facilitated the sharing of unique information and improved decision accuracy. These findings suggest that the group-serving tendency to internalize success may have important consequences for group performance that have not yet been considered in current research.

Suggested Citation

  • Goncalo, Jack A. & Duguid, Michelle M., 2008. "Hidden consequences of the group-serving bias: Causal attributions and the quality of group decision making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 219-233, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:107:y:2008:i:2:p:219-233
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Gruenfeld, Deborah H & Mannix, Elizabeth A. & Williams, Katherine Y. & Neale, Margaret A., 1996. "Group Composition and Decision Making: How Member Familiarity and Information Distribution Affect Process and Performance," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-15, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Goncalo, Jack A. & Polman, Evan & Maslach, Christina, 2010. "Can confidence come too soon? Collective efficacy, conflict and group performance over time," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 13-24, September.

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