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

Jack A. Goncalo, Michelle M. Duguid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume107
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Causal attribution
  • Decision making
  • Divergent thinking
  • Group-serving bias
  • Knowledge exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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