, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 873-896

Individual Priming in Virtual Team Decision-Making

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Abstract

Virtual teams have different interactions than face-to-face teams because they rely on information and communication technologies, which can impede or assist certain human cognitive processes. Past research has shown that although virtual teams exchange more information than face-to-face teams, poor decisions often result, because team members do not consider the unique information they receive from others. Drawing from cognitive psychology, our research explored a unique way to improve team decision-making through the use of cognitive priming. We proposed that priming group members to pay attention to others or to engage in counterfactual thinking would improve team members’ cognition and, therefore, team performance. Prior research with individuals and brainstorming teams has shown these forms of priming to improve performance; however, no research has attempted to use priming to improve the outcomes of virtual team decision-making, which requires deeper interaction and cognitive involvement than brainstorming. We performed two lab experiments using primes that have been found to improve the individual decision-making process. We found that priming had some impact, but it did not significantly improve decision quality. Various reasons are discussed to explain why priming techniques may not be as powerful in teams as in individuals, and future research ideas are suggested to build on our initial work on priming in virtual team decision-making.