Group (collective decisions).

The adoption of collective decisions, as a rule, is carried out in small groups: at meetings (sessions), in the process of work of project (temporary) groups. The adoption of a collective decision can also be carried out by voting of large social groups.

If decisions are made by a group whose members formally have equal rights (commission, committee, jury, council, etc.), the person is then a member of the DG (decision-making group). The main thing in the activity of such a group is the achievement of agreement in the development of joint decisions.

There are two reasons why a group decision can be more useful than an individual one.

First, psychological research has shown that people are more likely to trust decisions in which they were directly involved. More experiments by K. Levin, carried out in the 40s. The 20th century showed that dishes from unpopular meat products (kidneys, liver, etc.) were more often prepared by those American housewives who, before that, not only listened to a lecture on how to cook them, but discussed these methods with each other. Group discussion gives us the opportunity to express our own point of view and influence the final decision. As a consequence, the decision made by the group is perceived by us as our own.

Secondly, several people who come together have great knowledge, can analyze the problem from different angles, correct each other’s mistakes and offer more effective solutions.

At the same time, a group decision takes longer than an individual one. In addition, psychological difficulties arise during the discussion, which can significantly affect the outcome of the group discussion. As a result, members of a small group cannot realize their potential and work less efficiently than individuals and the so-called nominal groups (a set of people who independently propose solutions, which are then added to a “common piggy bank”).

A small group is understood as two or more people who enter into direct communication with each other, are aware of their belonging to the same community and depend on each other in achieving group goals. The unity of a small group is provided by social identity and group cohesion. The basis of cohesion is interpersonal attraction (members of the group experience mutual attraction), the ability of the group to meet the needs of a person, as well as the coincidence of values, attitudes and goals of group members related to the solution of a group problem. Cohesion ensures the continuity of the existence of the group, determines how people follow group norms and how strongly they influence each other, determines the effectiveness of solving a group problem.

Group tasks can be classified according to several criteria: the psychological processes necessary to solve them; the ability to divide the task into subtasks; the presence of a standard for comparing the result; connection of individual results with the group. The solution of a group problem requires the efforts of all members of the group. The greater the contribution of each participant, the better the group result.

However, the presence of other people has an impact on the individual productivity of a person. This impact is manifested in the effects of social facilitation – inhibition and social laziness – productivity.

Social facilitation is an increase in the speed and quality of an individual task in the presence of other people who perform the same task, but do not interact with the person or simply observe him. However, the presence of others can have not only an amplifying but also a weakening effect – social inhibition a decrease in the speed and quality of a task in the presence of other people who perform the same task, but do not interact with a person or simply watch him.

Social facilitation and inhibition, according to psychologists, arise due to:

a) excitement in the presence of other people, which arises as a result of the expectation of evaluation or conflict of attention);

b) distraction of attention (as a result, a person can successfully solve simple tasks (social facilitation), while complex ones, on the contrary, are solved with difficulty (social inhibition));

c) a high degree of self-awareness (comparing oneself with others causes a desire to bring one’s I-real in line with expectations, which works for simple tasks, but when solving complex problems, it causes embarrassment and slows down the solution).

At the same time, the qualification of the performer is of decisive importance, if it is high, then the effect of social facilitation – inhibition is minimized, being more significant for beginners.

Social loafing is the tendency of a person to work less hard on a task if they believe that other people are working on the task. Social performance occurs when a person puts in more effort when performing a task together with other people than when working alone.

Social laziness – working capacity arise due to:

a) spraying / taking responsibility (spraying – transferring responsibility to group members);

b) social comparison (a person compares his contribution to solving a problem with the contribution of other participants and understands that it makes no sense to make great efforts; this happens when, from his point of view, he already works better than others).

In order for group performance of a task to demotivate participants and reduce individual efforts, certain conditions are necessary. Social laziness occurs in people who perform an uninteresting, very simple or very complex task, have little value for their group, work in the absence of a clear distribution of responsibilities and rewards.

In general, the disadvantages of collective solutions are:

· Excessive influence on the GPR of one or more members of the group (coalition), expressed in the preference of the solutions lobbied by them;

· a large and often inefficient waste of time by members of the PRT, especially when there are differences of opinion;

· the application of the “majority” rule, which does not allow taking into account all the opinions of the members of the GPR, the “dissenting opinion” of some members of the GPR;

Reliance in decision-making on authoritative opinions, and not on facts and problems;

Conformity of the group, preference for authoritative opinion (usually the opinion of the leader).

In the absence of strong authority in the group, in which decisions are reduced, in fact, from group to individual, one of the main problems of the GPR is the problem of finding a compromise (solution option) acceptable to all members of the group.

Let’s consider how the process of making a group decision takes place and how negative effects can be avoided in this process.

On fig. 4.1. shows how the process of making a group decision is carried out.

Rice. 4.1. The process of making a group decision.

Cognitive motivation is associated with a person’s interest in the collection and subsequent processing of information necessary to make a group decision. It encourages a member of the group to analyze incoming information: the higher this motivation, the more often people use systematic information processing and less often – decision-making heuristics.

Social motivation is associated with a person’s interest in their own needs (selfish motivation) or the needs of classmates and the group as a whole (social motivation). It sets the direction of information analysis, causes prejudice in its perception, interpretation and memorization. People with selfish motivation are more likely to prefer information that they themselves possess and that is consistent with their attitudes. At the same time, people with prosocial motivation listen more to their classmates.

As seen in fig. 4.1, when making group decisions, individual and group mechanisms are involved.

Individual mechanisms operate at the moment when each member of the group independently analyzes the information received and formulates their own solutions, and includes: selective attention, perception, interpretation, memorization and reproduction.

Group mechanisms arise when group members begin to share their decisions. Getting into a group, some people show interest in what is happening, offer more solutions and actively participate in the discussion of other people’s options, while others, on the contrary, withdraw into themselves and stop generating alternatives. This happens due to several factors:

coordination of efforts is carried out due to the fact that members of the group listen to each other and do not block the activity of classmates. If they correlate their actions with the actions of other participants, give them the opportunity to express their own opinions and speak out for themselves, there are many solutions in the group database. At the same time, if people block each other’s efforts – they interrupt classmates and forget their own answers, the effectiveness of the group decision decreases;

a change in the sense of responsibility is carried out due to the presence next to the person of other performers who also perform a common task. Their presence can both increase a group member’s sense of responsibility for what is happening, and cause dispersion of responsibility – its transfer to classmates. Increasing the sense of responsibility increases the activity of group members and increases the effectiveness of the group decision, while dispersion reduces it;

social comparison is carried out due to the desire of a person to look good in the eyes of others. He compares himself to other members of the group and tries to look no worse than his classmates. This allows him to satisfy the need for self-exaltation and maintain high self-esteem. The connection of social comparison with the effectiveness of the decision depends on the reaction of group members. An intensively working group will activate its members and increase the effectiveness of decisions, while a slow working group will lower it;

information influence is carried out due to the arguments that members of the group publicly express in support of their point of view. Faced with the need to express an opinion or make a decision under conditions of uncertainty, a person turns to his colleagues as a source of additional and reliable information, listens to their justifications. Most often, information influence causes the analysis of various alternatives and allows the group to make more effective decisions. It is of particular importance in solving complex, non-standard tasks;

normative influence is carried out due to a person’s fear of sanctions for violating social norms, the desire to avoid group conflict. Following social norms, a person gives up his point of view, which differs from the opinions of other participants. Thus, on the one hand, normative influence contributes to quick decision-making and allows you to maintain the integrity of the discussion group, but on the other hand, it lowers the quality of work and reduces the number of original ideas. Most often, normative influence suppresses the analysis of information, the discussion of alternatives and, as a result, reduces the effectiveness of group decisions. This is especially common when solving complex, non-standard tasks.

As a result, the effectiveness of group discussion depends on a number of factors that enhance or weaken the effect of these mechanisms. Among the characteristics of the group stand out, for example:

homogeneity / heterogeneity (uniformity / diversity of characteristics of group members) – can have a different effect,

stability (immutability) of the composition (creates more comfort for the participants, but fewer ideas),

voluntariness of participation (increases efficiency),

dependence of participants on each other (positively affects the emergence of cooperation),

compliance with the norms of justice (increases efficiency),

group self-efficacy (a person’s assessment of how effectively a group can cope with a decision increases efficiency).

Group mechanisms generate the effects of group discussion. In addition to social laziness, the influence of the majority and the minority, these include the preference for shared information, group thinking, and the extremization of group decision.

The effect of preference for shared (known to all members of the group) information in the process of making a group decision is generated by individual mechanisms associated with information processing (people remember unique information worse because they often ignore it), as well as normative influence (fear of sanctions from the group) and social comparison (the desire to look better, to please the group).

The Group Thinking Effect is a syndrome that has the following symptoms:

Illusion of invulnerability – excessive optimism that does not allow the group to see the signs of danger and the pitfalls of the decisions made;

· the illusion of ethics – the belief of group members in their inherent virtue and the rejection of all reasoning about the moral basis of the decision;

rationalization – the tendency of group members not to discuss various alternatives, but to justify an already made decision;

· a simple view of the enemy – the tendency to view their opponents as too malicious to negotiate with them, or as too weak and unwise to protect themselves from their planned actions;

majority activity – the tendency of group members to rebuff those classmates who express doubts about the ideas and plans of the group;

group censors – the appearance in a group of people who consider it their task to protect classmates from information that may raise questions of a moral nature or cast doubt on the effectiveness of group decisions;

self-censorship – the tendency of group members not to express their doubts publicly;

Illusion of like-mindedness – the belief of group members that all participants in the discussion think the same way.

The grouping effect of thinking arises due to informational (uncertainty in the individual result) and normative (fear of sanctions) influence. The conditions for its occurrence are described in Table. 4.1.

Table 4.1

Conditions for the emergence of group thinking

Grouping of thoughts often occurs …
group unity
Group uniformity In homogeneous groups
Group cohesion In close-knit groups
Decision making process
Leadership style In groups with an authoritarian leadership style
Procedure for collecting and evaluating information In the absence of certain procedures for searching and evaluating information
Judgment Procedure In the absence of rules governing decision-making and encouraging freedom of speech
Group position
Efficiency When people don’t believe they can make a better decision than the one that already exists
Group position In isolated groups that have nowhere to look for advice and help, or in groups where the opinion of outside experts is ignored
Decision situation
Evidence of the decision When solving complex problems with an unobvious answer
Amount of time When solving problems in a time limit
The emotional state of group members When people are under stress

The extremization of group decisions is based on information influence, social comparison and normative influence. Group extremeness can manifest itself in three different ways: as group polarization, a shift towards risk, and a shift towards caution.

Group polarization refers to the division of group members into two factions, whose representatives take extreme positions on the problem under discussion. Group discussion strengthens the positions of individual participants, changes them towards one of the poles. This means that the effect of group polarization occurs only in those groups whose members initially leaned towards a certain point of view and were able to discuss their preferences. If people initially advocated a middle ground solution or worked under an authoritarian leader who did not allow them to express their position, he disappears.

In some cases, the group is not divided into fractions, but shifts to one of the poles. In this case, all members of the group occupy one of the extreme positions, demonstrating the effects of a shift to risk or a shift to caution . The effect of the shift to risk is that, after conferring, the participants in the group discussion take a more risky position than the one they held before the discussion. It is more likely to occur when people make a decision in an artificial situation that does not affect their interests or cause serious harm. Otherwise, the disputants show a shift towards caution, favoring the least risky solution.

To improve the quality of group decisions , special procedures are used. The first steps to improve group decisions are taken even before the group discussion begins – they determine the composition of the group, the place of work and the agenda.

At the stage of collecting and analyzing information about the problem , they create a role-playing and communicative structure of the group, enhance the discussion of information, reduce dispersion of responsibility and normative influence.

At the stage of making a final decision, different rules for choosing alternatives are used. First, people can choose a decision in the course of anonymous and non-anonymous voting. With non-anonymous voting, group members vote in the presence of each other and see which decision is supported by classmates. In this case, they exert informational and normative influence on each other. To avoid this, various variants of anonymous voting are used, in which participants secretly express their preferences. To make this process more reliable, psychologists have proposed several options for such a procedure:

balance sheets – participants highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative, and then, based on them, choose one of the options;

decision matrix – participants evaluate each alternative according to a number of predetermined parameters and choose the option that receives the highest score;

Staged voting – participants choose an alternative; after that, the alternatives that received the least number of votes are discarded, and the remaining ones go back to the vote. This is repeated until only one option remains.

Secondly, a group decision can be made by a different number of votes. There are many models that describe how individual opinions influence the final group decision. However, four options are most commonly used:

The average rule , according to which the opinions of different members of the group are averaged;

majority rule , in which the support is received by the alternative for which the majority of the disputants voted;

unanimous decision rule , according to which an alternative supported by all participants is adopted;

Consensus rule , in which a decision is chosen that has earned the approval of all representatives of the group, even if not everyone gave it the palm.

The more votes a decision takes, the longer the discussion lasts, the higher the probability of participation in it by the minority, the satisfaction of the participants and the more accurate the decision, but the less likely it is to make it. Thus, the choice of the number of votes depends on the expected accuracy and the need for a solution.

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