Pros and Cons

Chapter 17 Page 225-226
Evaluation of positive and Negative Characteristics
It is very easy to get stuck in a rut of negativity in a group setting. This section in chapter 17 is about weighing alternative choices and comparing them point by point. Two terms that the author uses are “positive bias” and “negative bias” (226). Griffin defines positive bias as, “ favorable characteristics of alternative choices [are] more important than identifying negative choices” (226). Negative bias is when, “the unattractive characteristics of candidates carry more weight than do the positive attributes” (226). I know that I can be easily swayed to overlook the reality of situations good or bad, when in a group setting. Sometimes we get carried away, as if we all just blindly jumped on this runaway band wagon. I forget that the positive bias can be just as destructive as the negative, because you miss out on truly weighing out any or all of the cons. These kinds of bias opinions in a group leaves you in a haze, not able to decipher between fact and fiction. Thus the importance of having a group leader or a set of rules (goal setting) to keep things on track.


  1. Thanks for the comments.

    In my work experience, I found the concept of positive bias and negative bias quite true. The textbook discusses tasks that have positive bias or negative bias. In addition, I have witnessed positive bias in circumstances, not just tasks. One example is when a person is enamored with a candidate for a position or a solution for a problem, and is unable to see any faults due to the intensity of the emotions and excitement. Another example is when there is a vested interest in a candidate (e.g., personal friend) or solution (one’s own idea); the emotion here is based on self interest, rather than on the candidate or the solution. Another example is when there is only one candidate or one solution; rather than working hard to find alternatives, a person is positively biased towards the available candidate or solution.

    Likewise, I have witnessed negative bias in circumstances, not just tasks. For example, someone is negatively biased towards someone or something based on prejudice or preconceived notions. In his book, Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore describes different types of people with regards to adoption of new technology: innovators (technology enthusiasts), early adopters (visionaries), early majority (pragmatists), late majority (conservatives), and laggards (skeptics). Innovators may have a negative bias towards an old solution, while laggards may have a negative bias towards an unproven new technology.

  2. It does seem that negative comments and features carry more weight than positive ones. Sometimes this is a good thing if the negative feature negates all the positive ones. For example, a piece of property may have a lot of positive features that would make it a great place for a park, but the one negative is that it would be quite costly to clean up the toxic waste that used to be there.

    Unfortunately, in politics, the negative bias seems to prevail. Voters say they don't like negative ads, but they're more persuasive than positive ones.

  3. I agree there are ways to get lost or blinded by positive bias just as there is a way to get lost or blinded by negative bias. And a leader or someone else acting as the regulator to make sure things are staying on track is important. However, I also think that these distractions or bias’ are okay for maintaining the overall group dynamic. After all, how would we be able to analyze group dynamics without these different aspects? And as for the titles or roles people play in groups, we would lose those as well. So isn’t there a rhyme or reason for everything we do in communications?