Predecisional distortion of information by auditors and salespersons

J. Edward Russo, Margaret G. Meloy, T. Jeffrey Wilks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


As people are deciding between two alternatives, they may distort new information to support whichever alternative is tentatively preferred. The presence of such predecisional distortion of information was tested in decisions made by two groups of professionals, auditors and salespersons. Both groups exhibited substantial distortion of information, with little reduction for professional decisions compared to nonprofessional ones. However, auditors' distortion was significantly smaller than that of salespersons. In addition, holding professionals accountable for their decisions, akin to a supervisory review, lowered distortion somewhat for salespersons but not at all for auditors. The latter seemed to act as if they were always being held accountable. Because people seem unaware that they are distorting information, at least at the moment this bias is occurring, they are fully convinced of the soundness of their choices. This may make it difficult for distortion to be detected by decision makers themselves or even by supervisors who cannot completely duplicate their subordinate's knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalManagement Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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