Shared responsibility in collective decisions

Abstract

Research investigating collective decision-making has focused primarily on the improvement of accuracy in collective decisions and less on the motives that drive individuals to make these decisions. We argue that a strong but neglected motive for making collective decisions is minimizing the material and psychological burden of an individual’s responsibility. Making difficult decisions with others shields individuals from the consequences of negative outcomes by reducing regret, punishment and stress. Considering shared responsibility as a another key motivation to join groups helps understand behaviours with societal implications such as political voting, committing norm violations, predicting natural disasters and making health-related decisions.

Fig. 1: Motives for collective decision-making.

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Acknowledgements

M.E.Z. is supported by the Wellcome Trust (grant number 538149). B.B. was supported by a starting grant from the European Research Council (NEUROCODEC, 309865), the NOMIS Foundation and the Humboldt Foundation. We thank S. Goss and D. Ain for editing the manuscript. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marwa El Zein.

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El Zein, M., Bahrami, B. & Hertwig, R. Shared responsibility in collective decisions. Nat Hum Behav 3, 554–559 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0596-4

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