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The individual preference effect supplements the predominant group-level explanations for the failure of groups to solve hidden profiles. Even in the absence of dysfunctional group-level processes, group members tend to stick to their suboptimal initial decision preferences due to preference-consistent evaluation of information. However, previous experiments demonstrating this effect retained two group-level processes, namely (a) social validation of information supporting the group members’ initial preferences and (b) presentation of the additional information in a discussion format. Therefore, it was unclear whether the individual preference effect depends on the co-occurrence of these group-level processes. Here, we report two experiments demonstrating that the individual preference effect is indeed an individual-level phenomenon. Moreover, by a comparison to real interacting groups, we can show that even when all relevant information is exchanged and when no coordination losses occur, almost half of all groups would fail to solve hidden profiles due to the individual preference effect.

Original publication




Journal article


Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

Publication Date





653 - 671