Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Keywords

consensus, communication, decision making

Abstract

In many legal, political, and social settings, people must reach a consensus before particular outcomes can be achieved and failing to reach a consensus may be costly. In this article, we present a theory and conduct experiments that take into account the costs associated with communicating, as well as the difficulty of the decisions that groups make. We find that when there is even a small cost (relative to the potential benefit) associated with sending information to others and/or listening, groups are much less likely to reach a consensus, primarily because they are less willing to communicate with one another. We also find that difficult problems significantly reduce group members’ willingness to communicate with one another and, therefore, hinder their ability to reach a consensus.