HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Thornton Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy, Decision Science, and Management

Abstract

When making decisions, people sometimes deviate from normative standards. While such deviations may appear to be alarmingly common, examining individual differences may reveal a more nuanced picture. Specifically, the personality factor of need for cognition (i.e., the extent to which people engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities; Cacioppo & Petty, 1982) may moderate decision makers’ susceptibility to bias, as could personality factors associated with being a leader. As part of a large-scale assessment of high-level leaders, participants completed a battery of decision-making competence and personality scales. Leaders who scored higher on need for cognition performed better on two of four components of a decision-making competence measure: framing and honoring sunk costs. In addition, the leader sample performed better than published controls. Thus, both individual differences in need for cognition and leadership experience moderate susceptibility to decision biases. Implications for broader theories of individual differences and bias are discussed.

Citation

Carnevale, Jessica J., Yoel Inbar, and Jennifer S. Lerner. "Individual Differences in Need for Cognition and Decision-Making Competence among Leaders." Personality and Individual Differences 51.3 (August 2011): 274-278.