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Abstract

Previous research in group decision making has found that in situations of a hidden profile (i.e. the best choice alternative is hidden from individual members as they consider their pre-discussion information), unshared information is disproportionately neglected and sub-optimal group choices are highly likely. In an experimental study, three-person groups decided which of three candidates to select for a professorial appointment. We hypothesised that minority dissent in pre-discussion preferences improves the consideration of unshared information in groups and increases the discovery rate of hidden profiles. As predicted, consideration of unshared information increased with minority dissent. The expectation of an improvement of group decision quality was partially supported. In diversity groups (i.e. each member prefers a different alternative) consideration of unshared information and group decision quality was significantly higher than in simple minority groups. Results are discussed in the light of theories of minority influence. The benefits of using the hidden profile paradigm with minority and diversity groups for theory development in the area of group decision making are highlighted. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.