Be Careful Who You Take Advice From

Two types of advice that may appear the same but greatly differ in performance

Two types of advice that may appear the same but greatly differ in performance

Over the course of a day we can be barraged with advice, often unsolicited but often from a source who we go to for advice, for example a work mentor.

But how do we really know that this person who we go to for advice is best suited to guide us?

We can often take action from advice given to us but what if the people who have given us the advice have in fact got limited knowledge.

New research aimed to examine this problem:

Understanding the saliency of the communication characteristics can be especially informative because experts are difficult to identify because they are often miscalibrated and over-confident

This may be particularly pertinent in the age of internet experts and gurus.

The research team conducted experiments to consider the difference between two types of advice: description or experience.

For the purposes of the study descriptive advice was well organised descriptive advice while experience advice is more likely to be incomplete or inaccurate.

In terms of a mentoring relationship both types of advice are generally given and it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two types.

As predicted the researchers were able to show a difference between the two types of advice:

We showed convincingly that the details of knowledge acquisition matter when giving and taking advice. Advisers provide better quality advice when viewing complete, organized information.

That is to say that those participants who received descriptive advice performed better, and that this performance was noticeable by others:

Decision makers preferences and confidence reflect an intuitive understanding of this difference.