Implications of an Assigned Devil's Advocate Role in a Negotiations Context
This paper seeks to examine the implications of an assigned devil’s advocate role on group dynamics such as group trust, cohesion, and accuracy. 148 participants were recruited through the Wharton Behavioral Lab and randomly assigned to a group of four, either with or without an assigned devil’s advocate. Individually, participants prepared a Lost at Sea survival task. Then, each group was tasked with coming up with a single group solution as preparation for a negotiation against another group, with the assigned devil’s advocates acting as such. The participants then individually reported on perceived group trust and cohesion. This study found that assigned devil’s advocacy has significant effects on group cohesion and accuracy, with the presence of devil’s advocates lowering reported group cohesion levels but enhancing accuracy of group solutions, with no significant impact on reported trust levels. These findings suggest that devil’s advocacy may be more appropriate for one-time group interactions, as opposed to ongoing relationships.