Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121426.


© 2015 Votruba, Kwan.

Open access



While expert groups often make recommendations on a range of non-controversial as well as controversial issues, little is known about how the level of expert consensus—the level of expert agreement—influences perceptions of the recommendations. This research illustrates that for non-controversial issues expert groups that exhibit high levels of agreement are more persuasive than expert groups that exhibit low levels of agreement. This effect is mediated by the perceived entitativity—the perceived cohesiveness or unification of the group—of the expert group. But for controversial issues, this effect is moderated by the perceivers’ implicit assumptions about the group composition. When perceivers are provided no information about a group supporting the Affordable Care Act—a highly controversial piece of U.S. legislation that is divided by political party throughout the country—higher levels of agreement are less persuasive than lower levels of agreement because participants assume there were more democrats and fewer republicans in the group. But when explicitly told that the group was half republicans and half democrats, higher levels of agreement are more persuasive.

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