The way corporate affairs professionals spread information about their respective organisations means they they are charged with communicating as directly as possible with very large groups of people.
In fact, whether it's through social media campaigns or traditional press channels, these messages are often distributed to an unstructured group of individuals. Naturally, this collection of opinions, experiences and agendas can have a significant effect on the way statements are received and shared.
Because of this, it's essential that the people in charge of managing an organisation's public perception are of aware of how groups react to news and other communication in the absence of a defined leader.
Recent research from Carnegie Mellon University discovered that groups approach the decision making process from a unique perspective.
In particular, the researchers focused on how groups reacted in situations where no one member of the group occupies an advantage over any other individuals. One of the most influential factors in these cases is positive feedback. If a group catches onto something that is generating a positive buzz in the media – be it a company, product or politician – they are more likely to be receptive to it.
According to one of the authors, Russell Golman, there are a number of things people can learn about the decision making process from the results. Namely, simple options are often latched on to by groups instead of those that could have multiple permutations.
"Most interesting, when one choice has more variation in how it is perceived, it's chosen less frequently, establishing systemic risk aversion."
In contrast, a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers discovered that leaders often take a completely different approach to decision making, particularly in situations where they are put under pressure. These scenarios usually result in leaders having to adapt their gut instinct with data before coming to a conclusion.