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Group Decision-Making Under Risk of Aversive Consequences SSRC

Bem, Daryl J.; Kogan, Nathan; Wallach, Michael A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Decision Making, Group Dynamics, Negative Reinforcement, Risk Taking Behavior


With the emphasis placed upon possible aversive consequences of risk taking (actual physical pain coupled with monetary loss), group consensus achieved through discussion was displaced in the risky direction relative to the average of the group members' prior individual decisions. Subsequent private decisions also exhibited this shift toward greater risk taking. These results were explained in terms of a process of responsibility diffusion. This interpretation was further reinforced by the findings observed for other experimental conditions, which effectively ruled out the alternative possibilities that greater risk taking ensued from its social desirability in a male sample or derived from affiliative propensities in a context where group members expect to experience aversive consequences in the company of like-minded others.

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