This study examined the hypotheses that (1) various types of language usage would mediate the relationship between group conscientiousness and group decision making performance and (2) these relationships would be moderated by group development. Data were collected from 79 3-person groups. Participants were university students and primarily Caucasian (88%), female (70%), with a mean age of 20.7 years. Individual level conscientiousness was measured with the NEO Five Factor Inventory (α = .76). Group level conscientiousness was operationalized as both the amount of conscientiousness within a group as well as the distribution of conscientiousness within a group relative to group member expertise. Group development was manipulated using forming and/or performance feedback interventions. The data were analyzed using moderated path analysis (Edwards & Lambert, 2007). The results showed that the effects of the amount of conscientiousness in a group on group performance were mediated by “assent” language and that these effects were moderated by feedback. Specifically, the results showed that, for groups that received performance feedback, the amount of conscientiousness in the group was positively related to the use of assent language (b = 1.61, p < .01) and that assent language was negatively related to group performance (b = -0.15, p < .01). The amount of conscientiousness in a group was neither related to assent language when groups did not receive feedback (b = -1.230, p > .05) nor directly to group performance (b = 0.082, p > .05).These results suggest that highly conscientious groups receiving performance feedback engage in high levels of assent language, subsequently reducing the group’s overall decision quality and task performance. Reasons for this effect are explored in the discussion, as well as suggestions for future research and practical applications.
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