GROUP STRUCTURING OF CHOICE DILEMMA DECISIONS
SPRINGER, JONATHAN D.
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Choice shift behavior refers to the changes between the earlier, prediscussion choices and later choices, by persons participating in an intermediate group discussion. These change scores were used to test the effects of group discussion, occurring in three types of small groups; family units, partial work groups, and ad hoc or stranger groups, each group composed of four persons. The different degrees of structural differentiation in these types of groups probably leads to differences in cognitive structuring of the social dilemma problems, the social episodes, or social decision situations. The group may, in this way, be said to define the situation. It was hypothesized that the family type of group would show the highest levels of cautious choice shift on social dilemma, the work group intermediate levels of both risk and caution shifts, and the ad hoc group the highest level of risk choice shift responses.;The three types of small groups were selected from a possible type of group scale of structural differentiation. Approximate high, middle, and low positions on this scale were represented respectively by the Family, Work and Ad Hoc types of groups. These groups were presented with twelve social episodes on which to make choice decisions. The social dilemma episodes or situations had two maid structural aspects or factors, of situation type and item context.;The three situation types, family, work or ad hoc, were a priori categorizations of the social episodes and referred to the overall, social framework of the situation. The situation types or social episodes factors were hypothesized to be congruent with the type of group factor, family, work and ad hoc. Ranked judgments of the situation types by the groups were used. Correlational analyses supported the hypotheses; Spearman coefficients better than the .05 level were obtained on levels of shifts and group situation type.;The second main factor of item context referred to the direction of change response, the choice shift, either towards a risk item context or a caution item context polarization. It was hypothesized that the three types of groups would differ significantly on their levels and patterns of choice shift responses. In the repeated measures design, two measures of choice shift (pretest to group discussion and pretest to posttest) were used in analyzing group responses. Analyses of variance of the complete mixed design for the two measures confirmed the hypotheses for the type of group factor and the item context factor at better than the .05 level of significance.;Two major theoretical orientation in the choice shift research area were discussed; group polarization and persuasive arguments. The results support a general conclusion that these two theoretical orientations are not mutually exclusive. Group processes in types of groups appear to operate in a simultaneous and parallel manner with regard to these theoretical orientations. Possible theoretical integration of different hypotheses for choice shifts and implications from the results were suggested.