Devil's advocate versus authentic dissent: stimulating quantity and quality
Article first published online: 13 NOV 2001
Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 31, Issue 6, pages 707–720, November/December 2001
How to Cite
Nemeth, C., Brown, K. and Rogers, J. (2001), Devil's advocate versus authentic dissent: stimulating quantity and quality. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 31: 707–720. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.58
- Issue published online: 13 NOV 2001
- Article first published online: 13 NOV 2001
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 DEC 2000
- Manuscript Received: 28 DEC 1999
Given the relationship between uniformity of views, premature adoption of a preferred solution and poor decision making, many suggestions have been aimed at fostering dissent, including the usage of a ‘devil's advocate.’ The hope is that such a mechanism will stimulate the kinds of reconsideration, better information processing and decision making as has been found to be stimulated by authentic dissent. In a prior study comparing these two processes, devil's advocate appeared to foster thinking that was primarily aimed at cognitive bolstering of the initial viewpoint rather than stimulate divergent thought. While that study left the actual position of the DA unknown, the present study compared conditions where the devil's advocate position was known (and consistent or inconsistent with the assigned position) or unknown. It further utilized quantity and quality of solutions as a dependent measure rather than simply cognitive activity. Results indicated that the authentic minority was superior to all three forms of ‘devil's advocate,’ again underscoring the value and importance of authenticity and the difficulty in cloning such authenticity by role-playing techniques. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.