Group Diversity's Impact on Individual Decision-Making and Cognitive Dissonance

By: Kelly Moore  

This research uses social identity theory to understand how the degree of group diversity and individual motivation to conform impacts individual conformity and cognitive dissonance (McKimmie, 2015; Milch, Weber, Appelt, Handgraaf, & Krantz, 2009). Results from previous research suggest that factors such as requirements for consensus, forcing a decision, and group interaction all impact conformity and resulting cogntive dissonance (Matz & Wood, 2004; Fontanari, Bonniot-Cabanc, Cabanc, & Perlovsky, 2017). Our hypotheses are that individuals making decisions as part of a group exhibiting a high degree of homogeneity will be more likely to conform and will feel a greater level of cognitive dissonance as a result. Our objectives are to 1) measure the impact of group diversity on an individual’s conformity to group opinions, 2) identify individuals' reasons for conformity, and 3) identify whether an individual’s motivation to conform and the amount and type of diversity in the group affect cognitive dissonance. Data was collected from student organizations at a large research institution in the Southeastern United States. Students engaged in a decision-making activity in groups and then evaluated their choice. Results show the amount and type of motivation to conform impacts the amount of cognitive dissonance experienced and that gender and race may also impact cognitive dissonance. The findings may be significant for organizations seeking to increase diversity to promote innovation and improve collective decision-making. The findings also suggest that even minimal group interaction can have significant effects on perceived similarity in group attitudes, values, and norms.

diversity, conformity
Organizational Diversity
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Kelly Moore

Lecturer, Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, United States
United States