Virtuous opinion change in structured groups

Fergus Bolger, Gene Rowe, Iain Hamlin, Ian Belton, Megan Crawford, Aileen Sissons, Courtney Taylor Browne Lūka, Alexandrina Vasilichi, George Wright

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Although the individual has been the focus of most research into judgment and decision making (JDM), important decisions in the real world are often made collectively rather than individually, a tendency that has increased in recent times with the opportunities for easy information exchange through the internet. From this perspective, JDM research that factors-in this social context has increased generalizability and mundane realism relative to that which ignores it. We delineate a problem-space for research within which we locate protocols that are used to study or support collective JDM, identify a common research question posed by all of these protocols – “What are the factors leading to opinion change for the better (‘virtuous opinion change’) in individual JDM agents?”, and propose a modelling approach and research paradigm using structured groups (i.e., groups with some constraints on their interaction), for answering this question. This paradigm, based on that used in studies of judge-adviser systems, avoids the need for real interacting groups and their attendant logistical problems, lack of power, and poor experimental control. We report an experiment using our paradigm on the effects of group size and opinion diversity on judgmental forecasting performance to illustrate our approach. The study found a U-shaped effect of group size on the probability of opinion change, but no effect on the amount of virtuous opinion change. Implications of our approach for development of more externally valid empirical studies and theories of JDM, and for the design of structuredgroup techniques to support collective JDM, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25
Number of pages31
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2023


  • group judgment
  • judgmental forecasting
  • Delphi


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