It’s easy to fool ourselves. Two specific ways we improve our thinking process when we feel accountable to someone else for our results:
First, we’re more aware of the cues and clues we’re using to make decisions. The interplay between our conscious and unconscious is complex. As a result, the facts we think we’re using to reach conclusions aren’t necessarily the facts we’re really using. Accountability nudges us toward awareness of the cues and clues we’re actually using.
Second, we’re less likely to overestimate our accuracy. Studies show that we’re very likely to overestimate how accurate we are in our estimates and judgments. When we feel we’ll have to explain or defend our decisions, our improved thinking process reduces this tendency. It doesn’t make us more accurate, but it makes us more aware of how accurate (or inaccurate) our estimates are.