Overcoming focusing failures in competitive environments

Lorraine Chen Idson, Dolly Chugh, Yoella Bereby-Meyer, Simone Moran, Brit Grosskopf, Max Bazerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


This paper attacks one of the chief limitations of the field of behavioral decision research - the past inability to use this literature to improve decision making. Building on the work of Thompson, Gentner, Loewenstein and colleagues (Loewenstein, Thompson, & Gentner, 1999; Thompson, Gentner, & Loewenstein, 2000; Gentner & Markman, 1997), the current paper finds that it is possible to reduce bias in one of the most robust problems in the decision literature, the Acquiring a Company Problem (Samuelson & Bazerman, 1985). Past research has shown that individuals make sub-optimal offers as a result of the failure to think about the decisions of others and to incorporate a clear understanding of the rules of the game. In the current study, we find that by allowing study participants to see and understand differences in seemingly unrelated decision problems - versions of the Monty Hall Game (Nalebuff, 1987; Friedman, 1998) and Multiparty Ultimatum Game (Messick, Moore, & Bazerman, 1997; Tor & Bazerman, 2003) - study participants can learn to focus more accurately on the decisions of other parties and the rules of the game, the keys to solving the Acquiring a Company Problem. This research offers a new piece of evidence that comparative and analogical processes may be a successful direction for improving decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Acquiring a Company
  • Bounded rationality
  • Cognitions of others
  • Comparative and analogical processes
  • Debiasing
  • Focusing
  • Monty Hall
  • Rules of the game
  • Ultimatums

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences (all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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