Conflicting interests within a group can lead to better collective decisions – if you’re a social animal … far from hampering decision-making, conflict can lead to better results. However, this depends on individual animals sharing the group’s overall goal…if individuals in a group have slightly different small-scale goals they are less likely to make the same mistake as another individual in the group, than would be predicted by ‘chance’. The differing goals within a group are a result of animals trying to optimise their own personal gains from a decision.
“Collective decisions in groups where there are lots of minor disagreements actually offset errors made by individuals. Counterintuitively, this means that the ‘quality’ of a decision for a group as a whole may improve with the number of differing decision-makers within it – although this plateaus at a certain number of animals. In these kinds of groups it is better to share decisions with others than to make decisions independently, with like-minded individuals only, or to follow a dictator or leader.”
“Our results showed that shared decisions, made by animals without conflict, were often surprisingly poor. It’s possible that this could be applicable to human collective decision making and would provide a strong argument for not excluding different or minority factions from collective decisions.”