Pooling unshared information: The benefits of knowing how access to information is distributed among group members

Garold Stasser, Sandra I. Vaughan, Dennis D. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Our three-person groups read descriptions of three hypothetical candidates for student-body president. Each member of a group received more information about one of the candidates, making him or her relatively expert about that candidate. The identity of this candidate was revealed to members in half of the groups before they read the materials (expertise forewarning). For half of the forewarned and the not-forewarned groups, members' expertise was publicly identified at the onset of discussion (expert-role assignment). During collective recall, groups mentioned substantially more shared than unshared information. This sampling bias favoring shared information was reduced by expert-role assignment but not by forewarning. However, forewarning did increase the likelihood that unshared information would be retained on a written protocol once it was mentioned during discussion. These results replicated and extended findings of Stasser, Stewart, and Wittenbaum (1995). However, they attributed the role-assignment effect to coordinated recall prompted by expert-role enactment, and we found no evidence of the kind of division of labor that they proposed. Other possible mediating processes for these effects were explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-116
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Science Foundation Grant No. SBR-9410584 to the first author. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Garold Stasser, Department of Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, OH, 45056. E-mail: StasseGL@MUOhio.edu. 102


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