Cognitive Differences and Social Influence

Featuring: Sameer B. Srivastava Ewald T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy, Berkeley Haas

Cognitive differences can catalyze social learning through the process of one-to-one social influence. Yet the learning benefits of exposure to the ideas of cognitively dissimilar others often fail to materialize. Why do cognitive differences produce learning from interpersonal influence in some contexts but not in others?

To answer this question, Professor Srivastava will share results from a novel experimental paradigm in which participants (a) respond to a polarizing scenario; (b) view an opposing argument by another whose cognition is either similar to or different from their own and is either observable to them or obscured; and (c) have an opportunity to respond again to the scenario. Findings from this study help shed light on the conditions under which exposure to cognitive differences can ameliorate opinion polarization in groups. We will discuss implications of these findings for social influence, collective intelligence, and diversity in groups and teams.