Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The two studies presented here examined factors that might affect teams’ and individuals’ tendency to follow outside advice when attempting to solve a complex problem known as letters-to-numbers. Past research on group dynamics suggests that a lack of group consensus or homogeneity reduces group members’ confidence in their group’s abilities, and may lead members both to seek and accept advice from outside the group. Study 1 experimentally manipulated group diversity in task performance strategies in order to investigate whether dyads whose members have divergent perspectives are more likely than homogeneous dyads to consider and use a problem-solving strategy presented from a source outside the group when trying to solve a letters-to-numbers problem. Experimental sessions were videotaped to allow for observational analysis. Mixed results suggested that diverse-strategy dyads may have been better at processing task-relevant information and had more productive discussions than same-strategy dyads. Study 2 sought to examine the role of confidence in taking outside advice at the individual level. Individuals attempted to solve two letters-to-numbers problems. On the first, the problem was made easier or more difficult in order to experimentally manipulate the participants’ confidence in the strategy that they used when trying to solve it. Participants were given an alternative strategy to consider using on the second problem. Mixed results suggested that individuals with low strategy confidence were more likely to consider the alternative strategy and may have performed better on the second problem than high strategy confidence individuals. Limitations of the studies and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.