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The effect of computer -mediated communication on group decisions: An experimental study of order effects

Jennifer L Blaskovich, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Group work, although an essential component of contemporary business, is a costly activity. Advances in information technology have made computer-mediated, virtual meetings a practical alternative to the traditional meeting. However, past research indicates that computer-mediated meetings may not be a wholly equivalent substitute for traditional meetings. This study relies on theories of belief revision and group decision-making to examine whether communication setting affects group belief revision performance in a business task. ^ The belief-adjustment model is a theory of belief revision that predicts a measurable effect on a final decision according to the order of information. Research utilizing the model indicates that although order effects are a pervasive judgment bias, situational factors, such as group work, can temper the effect. Prior research has not addressed whether this benefit holds in a computer-mediated setting. This study posits that computer-mediated groups cannot be assumed to retain the positive belief revision patterns of face-to-face groups, resulting in order biases. Secondary hypotheses explore reasons why the belief revision patterns of face-to-face and virtual groups are expected to differ. An experiment is conducted with a 2 x 2 factorial design obtained by crossing communication setting with evidence order. ^ The results indicate that face-to-face groups exhibit few order effects while the decisions of computer-mediated groups were strongly biased by order. This implies that the benefits of group work cannot be expected to transfer to a computer-mediated setting. Findings on the secondary hypotheses were generally inconsistent with expectations, suggesting that other factors not measured in this study impact group belief revision. ^ This study contributes to the literature by examining how group decisions are changed when the group operates in a computer-mediated setting. The prevalence of, and emphasis on, group work in contemporary organizations is not likely to diminish; the increasing dispersion of organizations has intensified the desire for supportive technology. Studying the differences between face-to-face groups and computer-mediated groups can provide clues into what factors are the most influential in group settings. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Accounting

Recommended Citation

Blaskovich, Jennifer L, "The effect of computer -mediated communication on group decisions: An experimental study of order effects" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3167454.