Exploiting the wisdom of others
While decision makers often consult other people’s opinions to improve their decisions, they fail to do so optimally. One main obstacle to incorporating others’ opinions efficiently is one’s own opinion. We theorize that decision makers could improve their performance by suspending their own judgment. In one study, participants used others’ opinions to estimate uncertain quantities (the caloric value of foods). In the full-view condition, participants could form independent estimates prior to receiving others’ opinions, while participants in the blindfold condition could not form prior opinions. We obtained an intriguing blindfold effect such that the blindfolded participants provided more accurate estimates than did the full-view participants. Several policy-capturing measures indicated that the advantage of the blindfolded participants was due to their unbiased weighting of others’ opinions. The full-view participants, in contrast, adhered to their prior opinion and thus failed to exploit the information contained in others’ opinions. The results from these two conditions document different modes of processing and consequences for accuracy.