How Can Groups Make Good Decisions? | Mariano Sigman and Dan Ariely

How Can Groups Make Good Decisions? | Mariano Sigman and Dan Ariely

All communities, sooner or later, have to make collective decisions that will impact everyone. These decisions usually have far reaching effects on everyone, so they’re some sort of a group decision. But groups don’t always make good decisions. Louder or more forceful voices can carry the day over more reasoned or logical ones. Those with angles to pursue or other specific interests in mind that run counter to what would otherwise be the choice of the collective whole can shape the discussion and secure their choice.

Scientific research into the sociology of crowds and group thinking has shown collective decision making works best when there are independent thinkers mixed in. In other words, peer pressure and going along with the crowd can shove out otherwise well reasoned outcomes. When people are thinking, they’re asking questions, exchanging answers, and moving in an informed manner toward the eventually decision.

A recent experiment in Argentina with over ten thousand participants was conducted. The collective crowd was asked some simple questions, and their answers recorded individually. Then the crowd was split into five smaller groups and given the opportunity to come up with five group answers to the same questions. The researchers discovered that by averaging the answers given by the five groups was more accurate than the average taken from the individual answers. Using the same process for real decisions can yield equally good results.

Key Points:

  • 1Peer pressure and social influence can block good exchange of thoughtful information, and sway crowds into bad decisions.
  • 2Smaller sub groups divided out of a larger crowd, whose answers are then compared to find consensus, can counter bad decision making by the whole.
  • 3Often times, someone with an extreme view will also be very forceful and confident in it; which can block others from being heard if they’re less sure.


Neuroscientist Mariano Sigman has been inquiring into how we interact to reach decisions by performing experiments with live crowds around the world. In this fun, fact-filled explainer, he shares some intriguing results .
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators.The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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