Group and Computer-Mediated Discussion Effects in Risk Decision Making.

Timothy McGuire
Sara Kiesler
Jane Siegel


Managers individually and in 3-person groups made multiattribute risk choices (two investment alternatives, each with multiple outcomes). Two group decisions were reached during face-to-face discussion, and two were reached during (real-time) computer-mediated discussion. In comparison with prediscussion individual preferences, groups' multiattribute risk choices and attitudes after face-to-face discussion were risk averse for gains and risk seeking for losses, a tendency predicted by prospect theory and consistent with choice shift and other group extremitization research. By contrast, group decisions during computer-mediated discussion did not shift in the direction of prospect theory predictions. The results are consistent with persuasive-arguments theory, in that computer-mediated discussion contained less argumentation than face-to-face discussion. Social decision schemes were used to evaluate alternative assumptions about the group process. A "(prospect-theory) norm-wins" decision scheme described group choice well in the face-to-face discussion condition, but not in the computer-mediated discussion condition. Another decision scheme, first-advocate wins, which described choices well in both face-to-face and computer-mediated discussions, was explored in a discussion of the role of communication in group decision making.



The main takeaway from this piece concerns some of the “limitations” in CMC at the time. “Limitations include the restricted ability to exchange verbal and paralinguistic information, to provide dynamic feedback, to convey social context cues, and to coordinate turn taking.” (p. 926). Overall, the study suggests that “groups that use a computer to communicate might be less influenced by norms than they would be in face-to-face interaction, yet the group members are equally as convinced and confident of the choices they make” therefore “the design of technologies should take into account their effect on social behavior” (p. 927).

APA Citation

McGuire, T. W., Kiesler, S., & Siegel, J. (1987). Group and computer-mediated discussion effects in risk decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 917-930.

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Technology-enhanced
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Experiments
Intervention/Areas of Study Collaborative, group, or team-based learning
Level of Analysis Institutional-level
Specific Populations Examined Faculty, teachers, instructors, or staff
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Professions
Outcome Variables of Interest Other
Student Sample Size 0-99
Citing Articles