Exploiting the Wisdom of Others to Make Better Decisions: Suspending Judgment Reduces Egocentrism and Increases Accuracy


Ilan Yaniv, Department of Psychology & Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. E-mail: ilan.yaniv@huji.ac.il


Although 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 three studies, 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, whereas participants in the blindfold condition could not form prior opinions. We obtained an intriguing blindfold effect. In all studies, 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. Moreover, in all three studies, the blindfolded participants were not cognizant of their advantage and expressed less confidence in their estimates than did the full-view participants. The results are discussed in relation to theories of opinion revision and group decision making. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.