Polarization and Persuasive Argumentation: A Study of Decision Making in Group Settings

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This research focuses on group decision making from both an outcome and a process-based perspective. This study draws from the well-established literature of group polarization, as well as the growing body of GSS literature, to develop a model to study group polarization in a contemporary communication context. The proposed model focuses on communication medium, task characteristics, group composition, and their interaction as explanations for the outcome of group polarization and the process that precedes it. An experimental research method is used to test the relationships suggested by the model. In this study, group polarization is recorded by comparing decisions at the individual level, face-to-face group settings, and GSS mediated settings. The initial agreement index indicates the diversity of individual stances within the group. This index is used as a covariate to enhance understanding of the extent of group polarization. The group process is documented by protocol analyzing transcriptions of the FTF and GSS group sessions for persuasive content. A 2x2x2 factorial design was used to analyze the results. The analysis indicates that for both process and outcomes, the medium of communication and task characteristics interact with one another to provide the dominant explanation. Surprisingly, group composition had no impact on either polarization or persuasive arguments. The findings reported in this study are of importance to organizations that increasingly rely on groups as units of decision making. The results also provide insight to researchers of group decision making and to future developers and users of group support systems.

Additional Details

Author Maha El-Shinnawy and Ajay S. Vinze
Year 1998
Volume 22
Issue 2
Keywords Group polarization, choice shifts, group support systems
Page Numbers 165-198