This study developed and tested the Social Consensus Model of group decision making. According to the model, group members who are extraverted, agreeable, conscientious, non-neurotic, and open to experience are likely to generate a relatively high rate of supportive communication, in turn leading to the group's voluntary adoption of the consensus decision rule. The model also holds that when group members voluntarily employ the consensus decision rule, they are likely to be satisfied with their decision, view the decision as representative of their own and other members' views, and perceive the decision-making process to be fair. In a laboratory simulation involving 50 zero-history groups of undergraduates, we found that group members' average scores on the extraversion, agreeableness, and openness personality factors all correlated positively with the rate at which they generated supportive communication, and that the rate of supportive communication correlated positively with the percentage of members who reported that the consensus decision rule had been used. In addition, the percent reporting consensus correlated positively with average ratings of satisfaction, self-representation, other representation, and fairness. All of these findings were consistent with the predictions of the Social Consensus Model, and they suggest that future research should take into account the emergent nature of group decision rules.
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