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The Social Side Of Decision Making

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It can be difficult to come to a group consensus when making conscious decisions. Quite often people worry about what others are thinking about them and not about the subject at hand. It is easy to get caught up in social pressures. It is important to keep a sense of self and not let the group or other individuals influence decisions. Often time’s people are not concentrating on what is being said at all, but subconsciously making a to-do list or going over a fight they had with a loved one. Often times several heads are better than one, but this not always the case. There are many factors that contribute to a well rounded informative group meeting. Social Comparison Theory, Conformity, and Groupthink are three powerful types of biases that can affect the outcome of any group.

Recently, I was involved in a group project, it took some time to coordinate and find a time for everyone to be able to participate, but once we were all able to get together, it went rather well and did not take much time to complete the project. We were to discuss how to improve this organization and people were settling to be mediocre. To come up with a conclusion first each member researched and formed the individual opinions. This made our group discussion run smoother because we not trying to research as well as discuss at the same time. There were several decision making processes that came into play during the discussion such as Conformity, Social Comparison Theory, and the idea that several heads are better than one.

Conformity took place because we were trying to reach a consensus and we did not all have the same ideas. There was some compromise and conforming to each other’s thoughts. The Psychology Press (n.d.) Explains that when a group adheres different opinions, people begin to think alike when participating in a group.

Plous (1993) reports that one of the characteristics of the Social Comparison Theory is people comparing themselves to each other and are apprehensive about others opinions. This group was made of four people who not very familiar with each other and who had not mastered the subjects being covered. As a result group members took their cues from the other members in the group. None of the members wanted anyone to think negatively of them and did not want to be the first to speak up. This type of behavior falls under the Social Comparison Theory.

There is an old adage that goes “Two heads are better than one.” In this case four heads were put together to come to a group consensus. Plous (1993) clarifies that group decisions are not always more accurate than an individual decision. Furthermore, there are several factors in guaranteeing an accurate group consensus. First the difficulty of the problem, how much logic is involved in deducing the issue and lastly, how much of the problem is common sense or general knowledge.

Making decisions as a group differs from making an individual decision because it can be difficult to convince the entire group to see eye to eye. In individual decisions only one point of view is present and little discussion goes into the discussion. During a group decision, there



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