The leader bias – for example, this blog

One of our many cognitive biases is to give too much credit for a group undertaking to the leader (or most visible member) of the group. I could illustrate that with how country leaders get too much credit for development success, how firm CEOs get too much credit, how soloists and conductors get too much credit relative to the orchestra … but I want to use the example of ME getting too much credit … for this blog. This is of course assuming that you like this blog (if you don’t, then I DO deserve all the blame).

What I really want to do here is to give well-deserved and long overdue credit to my fellow blogger, Development Research Institute Associate Director Laura Freschi. She has sole-authored many of the biggest hits here on the blog, including pieces on Do Millennium Villages Work? and History Matters.  The piece on Haiti Earthquake Relief was our 3rd most popular ever, and it was done while I was on vacation. She has co-authored many pieces with me in which she more than carried her share of the load. Behind the scenes, she manages the blog, ran the Best and Worst contest, does a lot of research, finds great guest contributors, and exerts her street smarts and good judgment to restrain Yours Truly from some ill-considered posts.

Yet despite all this, I have often gotten comments (usually favorable) on her posts that are attributed to ME as if I had written them. During the big critical discussion on the Aid Watch blog that we had last week, all the praise and blame was aimed at me alone (again the attribution of blame was correct, but not the praise). Admittedly, this discussion was partly about my personal tone, but Laura’s important role in the Aid Watch blog overall was overlooked. (And even on my personal tone, I would have been in even more trouble with some of you critics if she had not been a restraining and balancing influence).

Maybe I have been acting in some way that hogs all the attention, but if so, I want to correct that now. Please get over the leader bias on this blog, this blog too is a small spontaneous order in which everyone is contributing – and so here I say, thank you, Laura.