Cognitive bias and Creative Workshops

Some of the cognitive biases I had experienced are described below. Some of the biases are reinforcing each other, especially in group-decision situations.

The Groupthink bias happens when all the participants decide for one option in order to avoid disharmony and / or conflict and this happens often in decision-making process.

This bias is reinforced by the anchoring bias where one person of the group heavily supports one piece of information, especially when a Manager or an opinion-leader supports this. This bias is reinforced by the ambiguity effect to avoid unknown options by the group. This groupthink bias is also known as the Bandwagon effect where people believe things because many other do.

In order to avoid such bias in the workshops I organize, I always start the meeting by saying ‘Silence gives consent’, which enforce the individuals to express their views, whatever is the overall thought. Besides this primary rule, the creative activities force the participants to think differently, and provide space for different opinions in a friendly and secure environment.

I believe this approach feeds the Framing effect, as things and opinions are presented in different manners, thus generating different conclusions from the same information. This way of presenting things differently helps to reduce the Focussing effect, not to place too much importance only on one aspect of the situation, thus opening the participants to think differently and to open a range of possibilities.

Besides those benefits, as creative workshops contribute to open the mind of the participants to new ideas, they contribute to reduce the following bias:

  • Bias blind spot, where people do not see their own bias, as they interact in pairs or small groups, and discuss in small groups about their opinions, notifying some others’ bias,
  • Status quo bias as things cannot stay the same in such reflections where participants need to find new creative ideas, thus different from the current ones,
  • Confirmation bias as the information and ideas are presented differently,
  • Illusion of truth effect where people believe previously heard statements,

However, those workshops may increase some other bias, such as the Egocentric bias where participants who had already experienced such situation, they try to lead the group towards their way of thinking and doing, as they are recognized as the ‘creative expert’ of the group. This person might increase the Halo effect bias on the other participants.

Ghita BENKIRANE – 08/04/2017

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