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Group Risk Taking as a Function of Members' Anxiety and Defensiveness Levels

Kogan, Nathan; Wallach, Michael A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Anxiety, Behavior Change, Defensiveness, Group Dynamics, Risk Taking Behavior


The present study employed 180 female undergraduates divided into four personality types of 45 Ss each--low anxious-low defensive, low anxious-high defensive, high anxious-low defensive, high anxious-high defensive. From each set of 45 Ss, nine homogeneous five-person groups were formed--36 groups in all. Risk taking was assessed on three successive occasions--individually prior to group discussion, as a result of discussion to consensus, and individually following consensus. Significant risky shifts were obtained for all four group types, but the magnitude of the shift varied--anxious Ss shifted most and defensive Ss shifted least. The four types also varied in time to reach consensus. Correlations between initial risk level and perceived influence were uniformly nonsignificant. The results supported a responsibility-diffusion interpretation of the risky-shift phenomenon.

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