Tuesday, 30 May 2017

teamwork and the art of 'blagging'

Is working in 'teams' the best way to do things?Jay Doubleyou: team building activities

The latest research suggests maybe not:
Confidence matching in group decision-making : Nature Human Behaviour

With a report from the i newspaper:

Teamwork brings out the ‘blagger’ in colleagues with less expertise

Teamwork can bring out the “blagger” in people and lead to bad decisions, according to a new study from University College London and Oxford.

Researchers found people working together tend to mirror each other’s level of confidence, even when they have different amounts of expertise.

This means the weaker teammate can get overconfident and lead their expert co-worker astray.

“Making a decision collectively is most effective if the person with the most expertise expresses their opinion with the most confidence,” said Dr Dan Bang of the UCL Wellcome Centre for Neuroimaging, who led the study.

Confidence vs expertise

“If my opinion is more reliable than yours, then I should also be more confident.

“But it’s difficult to express that effectively if you don’t know whether the person you’re working with is habitually overconfident or too modest.”

The study of 202 people in the UK and Iran put two participants in a room and asked them to identify a faint target appearing on one of two displays.

They each said which display they thought showed the target and how confident they were on a scale of one to six.

Working together

The results were shared with both participants who worked in pairs to decide which of them was correct.

Dr Bang said: “We found that even when an expert is paired with someone who lacks expertise, both participants will align their confidence levels so that their opinions will carry more equal weight.”

This “confidence matching” meant that teams with different levels of expertise performed badly, with the less reliable person being too confident and the more reliable person not confident enough.

But when the teams had roughly the same levels of expertise, this “confidence matching”‘ boosted their chances of being right by dodging miscommunication.

Political confidence tricks

Dr Bang said people might mirror each other’s confidence in this way to “ensure equal influence on group decisions, perhaps as a way to avoid conflict, or as a way to diffuse responsibility”.

Co-author Dr Bahador Bahrami of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience said the study, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, could teach us about how politicians use confidence to gain public trust.

“The study invites us to reconsider confidence as a social tool, while helping to explain why we can identify local ‘cultures’ of confidence,” he said.

“For example, previous research has shown that finance professionals, who work in competitive environments, are more confident than the general population.

“It also helps explain why politicians seem so confident in their opinions; they may be tapping into how people use confidence as a marker of credibility.”

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