From cooperative to motivated information sharing in groups: moving beyond the hidden profile paradigm
A seminal study conducted by Stasser and Titus (1985) found that groups often make suboptimal decisions on tasks structured as hidden profiles because they tend to discuss and incorporate into their decisions information that is shared (known to all members) at the expense of information that is unshared (known to a single member). In other words, groups are not able to take advantage of the unique knowledge and expertise of their members. Over the past 19 years this unsettling finding has stimulated much research that seeks answers to the questions: why and under what conditions will groups favor shared information over unshared information in their collective decisions? This article presents a review and a critique of the literature on collective information sharing that was initiated by the Stasser and Titus study. The preponderance of research in the Stasser and Titus tradition carries with it strong theoretical assumptions that bear little mundane realism to natural decision-making groups. For example, group members are presumed to work cooperatively with one another, to be unbiased, and to present information in an objective manner. In contrast, this paper lays out the perspective that information exchange is a motivated process whereby members deliberately select what information to mention and how to mention it to particular members in order to satisfy goals.