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Group Discussion as Affected by Number of Alternatives and by a Time Limit

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/obhd.1995.1049


Abstract This study examines whether the task-related discussion in problem-solving groups is affected by the number of decision alternatives being considered and/or by the imposition of a decision deadline. Drawing from research on individual decision makers, it was first predicted that the number of alternatives would have an inverse effect on the quantity and quality of group discussion: as the number of alternatives increases, the proportion of information mentioned and the repetition of that information should decrease. Second, it was predicted that a deadline would have a direct effect on quantity: as the deadline gets shorter, a smaller proportion of facts will be mentioned, and mentioned facts will be repeated less often. Results supported the first hypothesis; however, deadlines were found to have a more complex relationship with discussion than was hypothesized. Evidence was also obtained for a "surface evaluation" explanation of how groups narrow the choice set, as was support for the notion that severe deadlines increase the rate of work-related activity within the group. The results are interpreted within an attentional focus framework.

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