Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CMU researchers find amplification of bias in advice to the unidentified and many

22.09.2011
Professionals often give advice to many anonymous people. For example, financial analysts give public recommendations to buy, hold or sell stock, and medical experts formulate clinical guidelines that affect many patients.

New research from Carnegie Mellon University's George Loewenstein and Duke University's Sunita Sah demonstrates that advisers confronting a conflict of interest give more biased advice when there are multiple advice recipients as opposed to just one recipient, and in the case of just one recipient the advice is more biased when the adviser does not know the name of the recipient.

The findings, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, also show that an increased intensity of feelings toward single, identified recipients appears to drive the bias; advisers experience more empathy, and appear to have greater awareness and motivation to reduce bias in their advice, when the recipient is single and identified.

"Logically people should be more concerned about the advice they give to multiple recipients than to single recipients since it will affect the welfare of more people," noted Sah, a post-doctoral associate at Duke's Fuqua School of Business who worked on this research while completing her Ph.D. at CMU's Tepper School of Business. "But, people feel more empathetic toward a single, identified, advice recipient, so they tend to put more care into the advice and behave less selfishly than they do if there are many recipients."

Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology within CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, added, "It is a perfect example of how emotional reactions to situations can often drive us to do exactly the opposite of what logic would prescribe."

Sah and Loewenstein conducted two experiments in which subjects, acting as advisers, gave advice to other subjects — "estimators." Those playing the role of advisers viewed a 30 x 30 grid of dots, some filled and some clear, and gave advice to the estimator or estimators on the number of filled dots. Estimators had to estimate the number of filled dots in the large grid, but only viewed a 3 x 3 subset of the grid. The researchers created a "conflict of interest" between the two parties by paying the estimators more if their estimates were accurate but paying advisers more based on how much the estimators overestimated the number of filled dots.

In the first experiment, advisers were told the name and age of the single estimator for the "identified" condition, whereas no such information was provided for the "unidentified" condition, and the adviser only knew the estimator as "the estimator." Advisers gave more inflated advice when they were not given the identifying information about the estimators, a result that is consistent with prior research showing that identification leads to greater sympathy toward a potential victim.

The second experiment repeated the identification manipulation of the first, and also compared advisers who gave advice to a single advice recipient (identified or not identified) or to a group of advice recipients (also identified or not identified). They replicated the results from the first experiment, and also found that advisers gave more biased advice to groups than to individuals, even though in the former case more people would be adversely affected by the biased advice.

This study is one of many collaborations between Loewenstein and Sah, including a 2010 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that helps to explain how physicians rationalize accepting industry gifts.

Jocelyn Duffy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>