Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is That Your Final Answer? Study Suggests Method For Improving Individual Decisions

Date:
March 14, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
What if there is no one else around to consult with before making a judgment - how can we be confident that we are giving a good answer? A new study suggests that "dialectical bootstrapping" (that is, thinking about why your own answer might be incorrect and then averaging across estimates) may be an effective strategy in helping us come up with better answers to many types of problems.

Herd mentality. Angry mob. Mass hysteria. As these phrases suggest, we are not always confident that a large group of people will come up with the smartest decisions. So it may be surprising to learn that numerous studies have shown that a crowd of people usually gives more accurate responses to questions compared to a mere individual.

Averaging the responses provided from a group increases accuracy by canceling out a number of errors made across the board (such as over- and under-estimating the answer).

What happens when we are on our own? What if there is no one else around to consult with before making a judgment - how can we be confident that we are giving a good answer? Psychologists Stefan M. Herzog and Ralph Hertwig from the University of Basel wanted to know if individuals could come up with better answers using a technique they designed and called "dialectical bootstrapping."

Dialectical bootstrapping is a method by which an individual mind averages its' own conflicting opinions, thus simulating the "wisdom of the crowd." In other words, dialectical bootstrapping enables different opinions to be created and combined in the same mind. For example, in this study, participants were asked to identify dates of various historical events. After they gave their initial answer, the participants were asked to think of reasons why the answer may be wrong and were then asked to come up with an alternative second (dialectical) answer.

The results, reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that the average of the participants' first answer with the second answer was much closer to the correct answer, compared to the original answers on their own. In addition, the dialectical bootstrapping method (that is, thinking about why your own answer might be incorrect and then averaging across estimates) resulted in more accurate answers compared to simply making a second guess without considering why the first answer may be wrong.

These findings suggest that dialectical bootstrapping may be an effective strategy in helping us come up with better answers to many types of problems. The researchers note that while it may be frustrating going back and forth between two different answers, "as dialectical bootstrapping illustrates, being of two minds can also work to one's advantage." They conclude, "Once taught about the tool, people could make use of it to boost accuracy of their estimates across a wide range of domains."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Herzog et al. The Wisdom of Many in One Mind: Improving Individual Judgments With Dialectical Bootstrapping. Psychological Science, 2009; 20 (2): 231 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02271.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Is That Your Final Answer? Study Suggests Method For Improving Individual Decisions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090310155609.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, March 14). Is That Your Final Answer? Study Suggests Method For Improving Individual Decisions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090310155609.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Is That Your Final Answer? Study Suggests Method For Improving Individual Decisions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090310155609.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins