THE EFFECTS OF NORMATIVE INFLUENCE AND RISK CONTENT ON ONLINE GROUP DECISION-MAKING
This study looked into the effects of group identity and subject content on computer-mediated group and individual decision-making. Drawing from traditional choice shift literature, it examines the concepts of choice shift and group polarization in an online setting. It focused on online decision-making and examined whether normative influence is a factor in online opinion change. In doing so it also looked at the effects of group identity as well as the effects of content on group and individual decision-making. In particular, the purpose of this research was to examine (a) the effect of normative influence on individual and group decision-making; (b) the effect of consensus on individual decision-making and; (c) if the nature of the issue being decided had an effect on group and individual decision-making. Using multilevel mixed models, findings from this study indicate that the nature of the content being discussed affected decision-making and opinion change, with there being a significant difference between intellectual issues as opposed to risk and moral issues. Another finding is that gender interacted with identity as well as content on decision-making. This research also suggests that group polarization may occur differently in naturalistic computer-mediated group settings, contrary to what has been shown previously in the literature. It suggests that previous studies have overlooked the temporal factor in the deindividuation process. This study increases our understanding of how content and gender affect group decision-making in CMC, and has advanced our understanding of the impact of group identification on the decision-making process. Further research needs to explore other factors that affect online group decision-making such as temporal factors and the social and psychological processes that are activated when different types of content, in particular risk content is being discussed.
Computer-mediated communication; group decision-making; choice shift; group polarization; identity; risk content; risk perception
dissertation or thesis