• Samuel Bateman

Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


Researchers in organisational behaviour have started to examine the influence of emotions on group decision-making but we still know little about the specific impacts of fear. Accordingly, this research examines the influence of fear on biases during group decision-making. Specifically, I examine the influence of fear on the biases of group members towards information that is consistent with current preferences when sharing and evaluating new information. Current theories describe two opposing accounts of the impact of fear, one in which fears increase biases during information sharing and the other in which fears reduce bias during information sharing. Existing explanations for the divergent effects of fear rest on the assumption that fears differ based on the subject under threat, specifically if it is the individual alone (in which case fear ought to undermine information sharing) or the group as a whole (in which case fear ought to enhance the quality of information sharing). In this research, I advance an alternative perspective that the source of the threat is a more relevant factor to consider. I argue that fears stemming from outside the group stimulate less bias during decision-making, whereas fears that originate from inside the group evoke more bias. I develop a novel, online, experimental platform on which to study biases within the group decision-making processes in order to test this proposition, by holding the subject of the fear that is induced (the individual) constant across conditions but varying the source of the threat that underlies the fear. The study found that the internal fear condition produced a significantly higher level of both information sharing and information evaluation bias than the control condition. However, there were no significant differences detected between the external fear and control conditions. Some methodological suggestions have been provided as to why the external fear condition might not have produced a significant difference. Finally, the new online experimental platform was discussed, as a ‘proof of concept’ for online group decision-making experiments, with the potential to be easily expanded to many more dependent variables with the option to carry out experiments both online and in a lab.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMark Healey (Supervisor) & Karen Niven (Supervisor)

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