Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth Erffmeyer, Daniel Roenke, John Bruni

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A review of the literature on decision making indicated a lack of research attention given to the effects of the dynamics of the social context surrounding participation on decision outcomes. The present study examined the relationship between social context and group decision making formats, and its implications for the effective implementation of group participation in decision making The effectiveness of three decision -making formats, the nominal technique, the interacting technique, and the consensus technique, were compared under conditions of cooperation and competition on the three decision effectiveness dimensions of quality, acceptance, and synergy.

Two-hundred and forty-eight undergraduate students, working in four or five-person groups, solved the NASA Moon Survival Problem under one of six conditions. Quality, synergy, and both self -report and behavioral measures of acceptance were assessed.

An 3 X 2 (decision format X social context) analysis of variance indicated that social context and decision format have no effect on measures of decision quality, behavioral acceptance, and synergy, although the results were in the hypothesized direction. The study did indicate that self-reported acceptance, satisfaction with the dynamics within participation, and representation in discussion were contingent upon the social context. Cooperative groups facilitate the acceptance of the groups' decision and were more satisfied with the dynamics within participation. Also, competitive groups felt that people did not dominate the discussion in their groups more than cooperative groups.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology