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The question whether individual study of risk problems (familiarization) leads to greater risk taking was investigated. Several explanations of the risk-taking shifts are explicit in their requirement for group or social interaction. From an information weighting theory it was hypothesized that the relative number of arguments favoring risk rather than some process inherent in group interaction produces the risky shift. One hundred and sixty subjects in groups of 5 or alone developed arguments only in favor of the successful risky outcome in 6 Choice Dilemma problems or worked on risk-irrelevant tasks. Risk arguments (p < 0.025) but not group discussion (F < 1) produced shifts toward greater risk taking. When the relative number of arguments favoring risk are controlled, individuals working alone show as large a risk shift as groups. Because of earlier failures to find a familiarization effect, it appears that groups may be more efficient or capable than individuals in developing arguments favoring culturally valued positions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1976

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