What is the Shared Information Bias?
The shared information bias, also known as the common information bias, is a cognitive bias where group members spend more time and energy discussing information that all members are already aware of (shared information), and less time and energy on information that only one member or a few members are aware of (unshared information). This can lead to less optimal decision-making outcomes because all relevant information is not adequately considered.
Key Features of the Shared Information Bias
Group Discussion Dynamics
The shared information bias is typically seen in group discussion dynamics, where shared information is given more attention and is viewed as more important than unshared information.
This bias can significantly impact group decision-making processes, often leading to decisions that do not fully take into account all available information.
The shared information bias affects how information is exchanged in a group, often leading to the under-utilization of unshared information.
Implications of the Shared Information Bias
The shared information bias can have broad implications across various fields, including organizational behavior, team dynamics, political decision making, and collaborative learning. For instance, in the corporate world, if a team’s decision-making process is influenced by this bias, it may lead to less optimal outcomes because not all relevant information is considered.
Factors Influencing the Shared Information Bias
The composition of the group, including factors like the diversity of knowledge and the level of familiarity among members, can influence the extent of the shared information bias.
Communication norms and group dynamics play a significant role in the expression of this bias. For example, in groups where open communication is not encouraged, unshared information may be even less likely to be disclosed.
Status and Power Dynamics
Power dynamics within a group can also influence this bias. Higher status individuals are often more likely to share unique information, while lower status individuals may feel less comfortable doing so.
Research on the Shared Information Bias
Research on the shared information bias typically involves observing group discussion dynamics and decision-making processes in controlled experimental settings. These studies consistently demonstrate that groups disproportionately discuss shared information, and this bias can influence decision-making outcomes.
Reducing the Shared Information Bias
There are several strategies to mitigate the shared information bias in group settings. Encouraging the sharing of unique information, creating a safe space for open communication, promoting diversity of thought, and employing structured decision-making processes are among the potential ways to counteract this bias. It is crucial in both professional settings and social scenarios to ensure a comprehensive approach to group decision-making processes, which would require the deliberate consideration of both shared and unshared information.