The Situationist

Team-Interested Decision Making

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 1, 2008

Taking one for the team - by FarlaneFrom Science Daily, here’s a brief research summary regarding how, even in individualistic cultures, team goals often trump individual goals.

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People act in their own best interests, according to traditional views of how and why we make the decisions that we do. However, psychologists at the Universities of Leicester and Exeter have recently found evidence that this assumption is not necessarily true. In fact the research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, shows that most of us will act in the best interest of our team — often at our own expense.

Psychologists carried out the first systematic tests of team reasoning theories by assessing two well known views of how people behave. Orthodox or classical game predicts that people will act for selfish reasons. Team reasoning theory suggests individual self-interest is not always foremost in the way people act as they will act in the best interest of their “team.”

Lead researcher Professor Andrew Colman, of the University of Leicester School of Psychology, said: “We have shown that, in some circumstances, decision makers cooperate in their collective interests rather than following the purely selfish predictions of orthodox game theory.

“We carried out two experiments designed to test classical game theory against theories of team reasoning developed in the 1990s by British game theorists. According to classical game theory, decision makers invariably act in their individual self-interest . . . .

“Theories of team reasoning were developed to explain why, in some circumstances, people seem to act not in their individual self-interest but in the interest of their families, companies, departments, or the religious, ethnic, or national groups with which they identify themselves.”

Professor Colman is delighted with the results. He said: “Team reasoning is a familiar process, but it is inexplicable within the framework of orthodox game theory. Our findings show for the first time that it predicts decision making more powerfully than orthodox game theory in some games.”

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The results will be published within the next few months in the journal Acta Psychologica . . . .

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One Response to “Team-Interested Decision Making”

  1. [...] More on “Goals Gone Wild” can be found in this article by The Wharton School. The paper itself is published in the February, 2009 edition of the Academy of Management Perspectives.  For a previous Situationist post on the work of Barry Schwartz, see “A Choice Worth Having.”  For a previous Situationist post on goals and decision-making, see “Team-Interested Decision Making.” [...]

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