Why Teams Should Use Brainwriting Instead of Brainstorming

Topic(s): creativity, teams
Publication: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Article: Knowing others’ preferences degrades the quality of group decisions 
Authors: A. Mojzisch, S. Schulz-Hardt
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague

According to Heslin (2009), groups can improve the quality of their ideas by engaging in a practice called “brainwriting” instead of traditional brainstorming. Brainwriting is when group members are asked to generate ideas independently before sharing them and pooling them with the rest of the group’s ideas. Why does brainwriting work? This is largely because this independent initial process eliminates the social pressures associated with group decisions. The current article (Mojzisch & Schulz-Hardt, 2010) provides additional support for these ideas.


Hidden profiles are a traditional paradigm used to study group decision-making. They involve providing each group member with only a few pieces to the puzzle and observing how they work toward a solution. In order to reach the correct – or best – solution, each piece must be shared and adequately attended to. The authors of the current article proposed that a lack of attention, as opposed to a lack of information sharing, is often the root of group failure. Findings from four different experiments supported their hypothesis, showing that individual group members pay less attention to future information after learning other members’ preferences, resulting in incorrect selection decisions.


This study is directly relevant to any organization that utilizes selection committees or any other decision-making group. Results suggest that it is important for individual group members to minimize expressing preferences prior to sharing all pertinent objective information. In fact, this is one situation where “brainwriting” could prove to be extremely useful.


Mojzisch, A., & Schulz-Hardt, S. (2010). Knowing others’ preferences degrades the quality of group decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(5), 794-808.