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Title:Status and Integrative Complexity in Decision-Making Groups: Evidence From the United States Supreme Court and a Laboratory Experiment
Author(s):Gruenfeld, Deborah H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wyer, Robert S., Jr.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Psychology, Social
Speech Communication
Political Science, General
Abstract:Integrative complexity is a measure of the tendency to consider decision-relevant information from more than one perspective, or in terms of more than one dimension. A "status-contingency model" is proposed to explain the determinants of integrative complexity in decision-making groups. Based on findings from the integrative complexity and social influence literatures, the model predicts higher levels of complexity among members of majority factions than among members of either minority factions or unanimous groups. Theoretically, these differences are attributed to affect and arousal, which mediate both the processing and expression of information in group decision contexts. The model was supported using two methodological approaches. A content analysis of Supreme Court opinions (Study 1) showed that both minority opinions and unanimous opinions were conveyed with less integrative complexity than non-unanimous majority opinions, and this was true regardless of the ideological content of the arguments expressed. That is, the opinions of liberal and moderate policy makers did not differ in complexity from those of conservatives, when the status of the opinions in the decision-making group was controlled. Thus, previously proposed ideology-contingency hypotheses (Tetlock, 1983a; 1984; 1986; Tetlock, Bernzweig & Gallant, 1985) were not supported. A laboratory experiment (Study 2), using ad hoc groups performing a judicial decision-making task, established (a) the generalizability of this finding to other group decision contexts, and (b) the extent to which it reflects differences in private cognition, or in public communication. The effects of status on integrative complexity were identical under public and private communication conditions, so they cannot be attributed to communication strategies alone. Under public communication conditions, expressions of affect and arousal (a) resembled those in Study 1, and (b) occurred independently of the effects of member status on integrative complexity. Here, expressions of affect and arousal reflected status-specific communication strategies, rather than responses to the decision task itself. In contrast, under private communication conditions, expressions of affect and arousal (a) were consistent with predictions about the effects of member status on cognitive processing, and (b) mediated the effects of member status on integrative complexity. Implications of these results for the reactions of majority, minority and unanimous group members to group decision making are discussed.
Issue Date:1993
Description:168 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9411639
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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