The effects of group members' personality traits and influence on individual consensus
Walsh, Christine M.
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This research investigated the relationships among four personality traits (affiliation, achievement, aggression, and dominance), actual influence, perceived influence, and individual consensus. My hypotheses consisted of a path model showing the relationships among these variables. The purpose of this research is to increase our understanding of group dynamics. By understanding group dynamics, managers can design meetings to optimize the commitment to and quality of the group’s decision. The methodology for my research was relational. In relational studies, variables aren’t manipulated. To test my hypotheses, I measured several variables that weren’t manipulated but were obtained in an experimental situation. Subjects (308) were randomly placed in 77 four-person groups. Each group consisted of three subjects and a confederate. The confederates weren’t part of my study and I didn’t collect data on them. All group members completed the Lost on the Moon exercise three times: an initial individual rank, a group rank, and a final individual rank. For each subject, I collected data on seven variables: affiliation, achievement, aggression, dominance, actual influence, perceived influence, and individual consensus. I measured affiliation, achievement, aggression, and dominance with Jackson’s Personality Research Form. Actual influence was measured by the absolute difference between the group member’s individual ranking and the final group ranking. A low score indicated high influence. Perceived influence and individual consensus were measured with a questionnaire. Both scales were derived from a factor analytic study. I found the following significant relationships: - affiliation was negatively related to actual influence, - affiliation was positively related to individual consensus, - achievement was positively related to perceived influence, - achievement was positively related to individual consensus, - actual influence was positively related to perceived influence, and - perceived influence was positively related to individual consensus. The first five relationships were found to be significant at the .05 level. The relationship between perceived influence and individual consensus was found to be significant at the .01 level. In interpreting the results, this relationship is suspicious. Since both scales were derived from a factor analysis of the same questionnaire, this significant relationship may result partially from measurement bias. In my exploratory analysis, I found gender to affect group dynamics more than personality. Therefore, further studies which manipulate gender need to be performed before the relationships among gender, personality traits, and group dynamics are fully understood.
- Masters Theses