When guessing what another person would say is better than giving your own opinion: Using perspective-taking to improve advice-taking

Ilan Yaniv
Shoham Choshen-Hillel

We investigated how perspective-taking might be used to overcome bias and improve advice-based judgments. Decision makers often tend to underweight the opinions of others relative to their own, and thus fail to exploit the wisdom of others. We tested the idea that decision makers taking the perspective of another person engage a less egocentric mode of processing of advisory opinions and thereby improve their accuracy. In Studies 1-2, participants gave their initial opinions and then considered a sample of advisory opinions in two conditions. In one condition (self-perspective), they were asked to give their best advice-based estimates. In the second (other-perspective), they were asked to give advice-based estimates from the perspective of another judge. The dependent
variables were the participants' accuracy and indices that traced their judgment policy. In the self-perspective condition participants adhered to their initial opinions, whereas in the other-perspective condition they were far less egocentric, weighted the available opinions more equally and produced more accurate estimates. In Study 3, initial estimates were not elicited, yet the data patterns were consistent with these conclusions. All the studies suggest that switching
perspectives allows decision makers to generate advice-based judgments that are superior to those they would otherwise have produced. We discuss the merits of perspective-taking as a procedure for correcting bias, suggesting that it is theoretically justifiable, practicable, and effective.

August, 2012
Published in: 
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 (2012) 1022–1028