Orientation and the Quality of Consensus Decisions in Small Groups

Date of Graduation

Summer 1974


Master of Arts



Committee Chair

J Micheals


It appears to be accepted as a truism that man is a social being; characteristic of this behavior, man seeks to function and strives to function in groups. Acknowledging the importance of verbal communication in decision making groups, and realizing that "Effective decisions demand an understanding of effective decision making," the primary concern of this study is to explore the relationship between certain types of statements communicated during the group process and the quality of decisions produced by groups. Specifically this study will seek to determine the relationship between person orientation and the quality of the solution on which a group reaches consensus. Three concepts must be defined: (1) consensus, (2) orientation, and (3) quality of decisions. Orientation does not operate in a vacuum. The concept of orientation is only one of many variables that may be related to the quality of decisions produced by groups. The expertise of group members, the type of task involved, spatial arrangements, cohesiveness, and the type of group involved (ie., whether the group is newly formed or a group that has established roles and developed a sense of cohesiveness), are but a few of the many variables to be considered. The present study's concern with orientation is in part due to Kline's suggestion that with additional information about characteristics of orienting ability, "group members could be taught kinds of behaviors which promote agreement or consensus." Until we have a better understanding of the relationship between orientation and the quality of consensus decisions, the value of teaching students to employ orienting behaviors, or any mode of behavior for that matter, seems to need further investigation. The causal relationships discovered in this study are but a miniscule part of the work that needs to be done in the area of small group communications.

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© Charles K DeBerry