Insights from Social Psychological Theories

Introduction

Group-decision making in referred to the situation that is experienced when individuals or team members in a group are collectively making a choice by analysing the alternative options presented before them. The decisions developed by groups are often different than those which are made individually. Thus, to understand the way people make decision while being a part of the group few social psychological theories and methods are to be discussed.

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Theories of Group-decision making

The social psychologist mentions that according to decision theory people make decision within a group based on four key elements which are individual preference, influence pattern, group preference and collective response (Planas-Sitja et al. 2015). The individual preference in a group to make decision is driven by the cognitive ability and storage of pool of information in the mind of the individual (Katz, Lazarsfeld and Roper, 2017). This is because the way an individual thinks or prefers is influenced by the amount of information they have regarding the topic as well as their cognitive perception regarding it. In contrast, the influence patterns lead an individual make decision while in a group by being driven of the way the information regarding which the decision is to be made is provided to them from any person or source (Porat, Halperin and Tamir, 2016). The group preference makes people while being a part of the group to take decision by considering the representation of the ideas that are thought to be most effective by the group members. The collective response makes people in a group to reach decision by considering the ideas that are to be collectively approved by all other group members and is related to accomplish the value and goals of the group (Planas-Sitja et al. 2015).

In social psychology, the social comparison theory mentions that people in a group to make decisions which are to be accepted at first compare their personal ideas with the rest of the people in the group along with they evaluate and observes values which are preferred in the group (Wang et al. 2016). This informs that people in a group make decisions by considering the opinion which is similar to others but may be slightly extreme in comparison to other group members to also meet the group values. However, the persuasive arguments theory informs that individuals in a group make decisions to represent ideas of which they are convinced of being effective by hearing novel arguments in their support. Thus, the theory informs that people in a group would decide to support a fact by at first entering discussion with the team members and later through arguments would get inclined to favour one side. It also informs that individuals make their decision while being a part of the group by considering the positive and negative aspects of the ideas (Mercier, 2016).

Methods of Group-decision making

The methods which are considered in social psychology by people to make decision while in a group include brainstorming, Delphi technique, normal group technique and dialect inquiry. The brainstorming is referred to the condition where the group members are verbally interacting ideas and alternative actions to find an effective concluding decisive idea from the list of ideas being spontaneously provided by group members (Levine et al. 2016). The session of the brainstorming is often found to be unstructured. In this method, the situation regarding which decision is to be taken is informed in details to the people of the group so that each of the people has clarified information about the issue or problem or topic regarding which decision is to be taken. The group leader would then solicit ideas from all people in the group to be presented them so that all the alternatives are presented before the group members. After this, the people being part of the group process to evaluate the utility of each idea suggested to reach the final decision of supporting a particular idea that is right according to their perceptions (Seeber et al. 2017). Thus, it indicates people to take decision while being part of the group at first generates alternatives and later through effective analysis reaches their decision. The disadvantage of brainstorming method for deciding ideas by people while being part of the group is that some may avoid to present their say or decision until all members have mentioned their say because they fear of being ridiculed by other people of the group (Raikov, 2015). Thus, it may lead few people while being in the part of the group to avoid making effective creative ideas in proper time.

The dialect enquiry is referred to the method which put focus on ensuring that all alternatives are fully considered. This is used by people in making decision while in a group to debate the pros and cons of proposed decision or solution (Honkola et al. 2018). The benefit of using dialect enquiry by people in making group-decision is that it allows them to exploit wide range of ideas, provides stimulus for spanning considerable irreconcilable opposites and show creativity (Honkola et al. 2018). The people while in a group to make decision uses devil’s advocacy decision-making method in which a particular individual within the group provides critics regarding the proposed decision. This is done so that the people while being in the group makes decisions that are best suited to resolve the problem or goals of the group and are not risky or expensive to be accomplished (de Villiers, Woodside & Marshall, 2016). Thus, people while being a part of the group makes decision in such a way so as to eliminate any discord or avoid agreement regarding any decision which is not the proper alternative for the situation or issue to be resolved by the group.

The nominal group technique is the method used by people to develop decision while being a part of the group where all the members of the group develop a comprehensive list of proposed ideas in written format. In this method, people in the group record their ideas in a private manner and after finishing each of the individuals are asked to provide one idea from their list that is to be publicly recorded for argument (McMillan, King & Tully, 2016). In this phase, it is seen that usually verbal exchanges occur for having clarification regarding the idea being presented and no criticism or evaluation of the idea is allowed at this stage. After the proposals are accepted, the people in the group engage in discussion of the listed ideas which leads them to end in ranking the ideas according to their preference. The idea which is ranked highest is regarded as the final decision to be taken by members of the group (Foth et al. 2016). The benefit of using normal group technique as method for deciding ideas by people in a group is that it allows participation in generating decision of people who are reluctant to share ideas due to fear of being criticised as well as leads people to inform ideas who show reluctance to conflict (Rankin et al. 2016). The disadvantage of using the method in making decision by people within group is that the method is time-consuming and all members of the group are required to show willingness to participate. Moreover, it allows for resolving one problem at the time while making decision (Foth et al. 2016).

The Delphi technique is used by people to make decision while in a group when each of the individuals is present in various physical locations. In this process, the individuals who are in the "Delphi" group are selected based on their knowledge and skill or showcasing expertise in resolving any problem or issues in the group. The people in the group are asked to provide ideas, show inputs and provide alternative solutions to different decisions in successive stages (Humphrey-Murto et al. 2017). The responses gathered from the members of the “Delphi” group are aggregated and later shared with the members in the group through email, discussion in electronic bulletin board, fax and other sources. After completion of each stage, the members in the group are asked for alternatives and mentioned to rank the ideas provided in any fashion according to their preference. The most preferred ideas are then regarded as finalised by the people to be implemented (Wallace et al. 2017).

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Conclusion

The above discussion mentions that according to decision theory the individual preferences, group preferences, pattern of influence and collective responses are elements that are considered by people to make decisions while being a part of the group. The social comparison theory mentions that people in a group at first compare their personal ideas with the rest of the people in the group also evaluate and observes values that are related with the group to make decision. The persuasive arguments theory informs that based on arguments and counter-arguments the people being in a group develop decision to finalise any idea. The methods used by people while being a part of the group to develop decision are brainstorming, Delphi technique, normal group technique and dialect inquiry.

References

de Villiers, R., Woodside, A. G., & Marshall, R. (2016). Making tough decisions competently: Assessing the value of product portfolio planning methods, devil’s advocacy, group discussion, weighting priorities, and evidenced-based information. Journal of Business Research, 69(8), 2849-2862.

Foth, T., Efstathiou, N., Vanderspank-Wright, B., Ufholz, L. A., Dütthorn, N., Zimansky, M., & Humphrey-Murto, S. (2016). The use of Delphi and Nominal Group Technique in nursing education: a review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 60, 112-120.

Honkola, T., Ruokolainen, K., Syrjänen, K. J., Leino, U. P., Tammi, I., Wahlberg, N., & Vesakoski, O. (2018). Evolution within a language: environmental differences contribute to divergence of dialect groups. BMC evolutionary biology, 18(1), 132.

Humphrey-Murto, S., Varpio, L., Gonsalves, C., & Wood, T. J. (2017). Using consensus group methods such as Delphi and Nominal Group in medical education research. Medical teacher, 39(1), 14-19.

Katz, E., Lazarsfeld, P.F. and Roper, E., 2017. Personal influence: The part played by people in the flow of mass communications. Routledge.

Levine, J. M., Alexander, K. M., Wright, A. G., & Higgins, E. T. (2016). Group brainstorming: when regulatory non fit enhances performance. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 19(2), 257-271.

McMillan, S. S., King, M., & Tully, M. P. (2016). How to use the nominal group and Delphi techniques. International journal of clinical pharmacy, 38(3), 655-662.

Mercier, H., (2016). The argumentative theory: Predictions and empirical evidence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(9), 689-700.

Planas-Sitja, I., Deneubourg, J. L., Gibon, C., & Sempo, G. (2015). Group personality during collective decision-making: a multi-level approach. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1802), 20142515.

Porat, R., Halperin, E., & Tamir, M. (2016). What we want is what we get: Group-based emotional preferences and conflict resolution. Journal of personality and social psychology, 110(2), 167.

Raikov, A. (2015). Convergent networked decision-making using group insights. Complex & Intelligent Systems, 1(1-4), 57-68.

Rankin, N. M., McGregor, D., Butow, P. N., White, K., Phillips, J. L., Young, J. M., ... & Shaw, T. (2016). Adapting the nominal group technique for priority setting of evidence-practice gaps in implementation science. BMC medical research methodology, 16(1), 110.

Seeber, I., De Vreede, G. J., Maier, R., & Weber, B. (2017). Beyond brainstorming: Exploring convergence in teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 34(4), 939-969.

Wallace, S. J., Worrall, L., Rose, T., Le Dorze, G., Cruice, M., Isaksen, J., ... & Gauvreau, C. A. (2017). Which outcomes are most important to people with aphasia and their families? An international nominal group technique study framed within the ICF. Disability and rehabilitation, 39(14), 1364-1379.

Wang, D., Zhu, L., Maguire, P., Liu, Y., Pang, K., Li, Z., & Hu, Y. (2016). The influence of social comparison and peer group size on risky decision-making. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1232.

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