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Chapter 7

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McGill University
PSYC 215
Donald Taylor

PSYC215 Chapter 7 Notes Definitions: Group: Two or more people who, for longer than a few moments, interact with and influence one another and perceive one another as “us” Coactors: A group of people working simultaneously and individually on a non-competitive task Social Facilitation: (1) Original meaning – the tendency of people to perform simple or well-learned tasks better when others are present; (2) current meaning – the strengthening of dominant (prevalent, likely) responses owing to the presence of others Evolutionary Apprehension: Concern for how others are evaluating us Social Loafing: The tendency for people to exert less effort when they pool their efforts toward a common goal than when they are individually accountable Free Riders: People who benefit from the group but give little in return Deindividuation: Loss of self-awareness and evaluation apprehension; occurs in group situations that foster anonymity and draw attention away from the individual Group Polarization: Group-produced enhancement of members’ pre-existing tendencies; a strengthening of the members’ average tendency, not a split within the group Social Comparison: Evaluating one’s abilities and opinions by comparing oneself to others Pluralistic Ignorance: A false impression of how other people are thinking, feeling, or responding Groupthink: “The mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive in-group that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.” – Irving Janis (1971) Leadership: The process by which certain group members motivate and guide the group Chapter Notes:  Group individuals often have more dramatic effects. Intellectual university students hand out with other intellectuals, accentuating one another’s intellectual interests. Deviant youth hang out with other deviant youth, amplifying one another’s antisocial tendencies  Individuals often influence their groups – example of one juror changing minds of other jurors from guilty to not guilty  Group dynamics expert Marvin Shaw argues that all groups have one thing in common: their members interact. He therefore defines a group as two or more people who interact and influence one another  Groups perceive themselves as “us” in contrast to “them”  Groups may exist for a number of reasons – to meet a need to belong, to provide information, to supply rewards, to accomplish goals  Early experiments suggested that others’ presence improves the speed, ability, and accuracy of one’s task. This is known as the social-facilitation effect. It may also occur with animals  However, a disruptive effect may hinder one’s ability to complete a task, which is evident in both humans and animals  Since the presence of others suggested both facilitation and hindering of performance, the research in this field laid dormant for 25 years until Robert Zajonc revamped the question for the truth  Zajonc demonstrated through another well-established principle in experimental psychology: Arousal enhances whatever response tendency is dominant. Increased arousal enhances performance on easy tasks for which the most likely – “dominant” response is the correct one. People solve easy anagrams when they are anxious. On complex tasks, for which the correct answer is not dominant, increase arousal promotes incorrect responding. Thus, on harder tasks, people do worse when anxious. This was the explanation for social facilitation  Social arousal facilitates dominant responses, whether right or wrong. Example: students took less time to complete a simple maze around others while it took the same student longer to complete a complex maze around others  With others’ present, people perspire more, breath faster, tense their muscles more, and have higher blood pressure and a faster heart rate  The effect of other people increases with their number. Sometimes the arousal and self- conscious attention created by a large audience interferes even with well-learned, automatic behaviours, such as speaking. Given extreme pressure, we’re vulnerable to choking. Stutterers tend to stutter more in front of larger audiences than when speaking to just one or two people  Being in a crowd also intensifies positive or negative reactions. When they sit close together, friendly people are liked even more, and unfriendly people are disliked even more  Crowding also enhances arousal. Compared to those in a larger room, those densely packed had higher pulse rates and blood pressure (indicating arousal)  Evaluation apprehension, distraction, and mere presence are the three evidence to support what is it about other people that creates arousal  For evaluation apprehension, Nickolas Cottrell surmised that observers make us apprehensive because we wonder how they are evaluating us. The enhancement of dominant responses is strongest when people think they are being evaluated. Some examples include: o Why people perform best when their cofactor is slightly superior o Why joggers speed up when running past a women sitting on a bench facing them instead of having her backed turned to them o Why arousal lessens when a high-status group is diluted by adding people whose opinions don’t matter to us o Why people who worry most about others’ evaluations are the ones most affected by their presence o Why social-facilitation effects are greatest when the others are unfamiliar and hard to keep an eye on  The self-consciousness we feel when being evaluated can also interfere with behaviours that we perform best automatically  Glenn Sanders, Robert Baron, and Danny Moore theorized that when people wonder how cofactors are doing or how an audience is reacting, they get distracted. This conflict between paying attention to others and paying attention to the task overloads the cognitive system, causing arousal  Zajonc believes that the mere presence of others, that is simply having other people around, produces some arousal even without evaluation apprehension or arousing distraction  Social facilitation usually occurs when people work toward individual goals and when their efforts can be individually evaluated. The question then becomes: will team spirit from group tasks boost productivity?  Max Ringelmann found that the collective effort of such teams was but half the sum of the individual efforts. This suggest contrary to the common notion “in unity there is strength,” that group members may actually be less motivated when performing additive tasks. Example: telling a blindfolded person to pull a rope either alone or thought to be pulling with others, pulled 18% harder when thought to be alone  Another example of social loafing was the noise example. The noise produced by six people shouting or clapping was less than three times that produced by one person alone. This is evident in the example where six blindfolded participants had headphones on and were told to either cheer with others or to cheer alone. When thought to be cheering with others, the sum of the cheer was one-third to that of an individual cheer  Curiously, those who clapped both alone and in groups did not view themselves as loafing; they perceived themselves as clapping equally in both situations  In group conditions, people were tempted to free-ride on the group effort where they benefitted from the group but gave little in return  The twist on evaluation apprehension is that individuals believe they are evaluated only when they act alone. The group situation decreases evaluation apprehension. When people are not accountable and cannot evaluate their own efforts, responsibility is diffused across all group members. By contrast, the social-facilitation experiments increased exposure to evaluation. When made the center of attention, people self-consciously monitor their behaviour  To recap: when being observed increases evaluation concerns, social facilitation occurs; when being lost in a crowd decreases evaluation concerns, social loafing occurs  People in groups loaf less when the task is challenging, appealing, or involving. On challenging tasks, people may perceive their efforts as indispensable. When people see others in their group as unreliable or as unable to contribute much, they work harder  Adding incentives or challenging a group to strive for certain standards also promotes collective effort. When groups believe high effort will enable performance that will bring rewards, their members will work harder  Groups also loaf less when the members are friends or identified with their group rather than strangers and know that they will see or work with them again. Essentially, cohesiveness intensifies effort  When arousal and diffused responsibility combine and normal inhibitions diminish, acts from mild lessening of restraint to impulsive self-gratification to destructive social explosions may occur  Unrestrained behaviour have something in common: they are somehow provoked by the power of a group. Groups can generate a sense of excitement, of being caught up in something bigger than one’s self. IN certain group situations, people are more likely to abandon normal restraints and to loose sense of individual responsibility to become deindividuated  A group has the power not only to arouse its members but also to render them unidentifiable. Philip Zimbardo speculated that the mere immensity of crowded cities produces anonymity and thus norms that permit vandalism. Example: two cars (NY and Palo Alto) with hoods up and license plate removed. Three days later, NY car was reduced to scraps of metal while Palo Alto only had someone close the hood  Essentially, deindividuated by group immersion combined with anonymity, individuals are more likely to commit crimes of a greater nature  Tom Postmes and Russell Spears conclude that being anonymous makes one less self-conscious, and more responsive to cues present in the situation, whether negative (KKK uniform) or positive (nurses’ uniform)  Aggressive outbursts by large crowds are often preceded by minor actions that arouse and divert people’s attention. Group shouting, chanting, clapping, or dancing serve both to hype people up and to reduce self-consciousness  There is a self-reinforcing pleasure in doing an impulsive act while observing others doing it also. When we see others act as we are acting, we think they feel as we do, which reinforces our own feelings. Moreover, impulsive group action absorbs our attention  Group experiences that diminish self-consciousness tend to disconnect behaviour from attitudes. Ed Diener and Steven Prenice-Dunn reveal that unselfconscious, deindividuated people are less restrained, less self-regulated, more likely to act without thinking about their own values, more responsive to the situation  Self-awareness is the opposite of deindividuation. Those made self-aware, say by acting in front of a mirror or TV camera, exhibit increased self-control, and their actions more clearly reflect their attitudes  Circumstances that decrease self-awareness, as alcohol consumption does, therefor increase deindividuation. And deindividuation decreases in circumstances that increase self-awareness  From studies of people in small groups, a principle emerges that helps explain both destructive and constructive outcomes: Group discussion often strengthens members’ initial inclinations (good or bad)  The group polarization phenomenon explains that discussion typically strengthens the average inclination of group members. If people initially tend to favour something (say, risk on a life dilemma question), they tend to favour it even more after discussion. If they tend to oppose something, they tend to oppose it even more after discussion  Discussions among like-minded students did indeed increase the initial gap between the two groups  People mostly associate with others whose attitudes are similar to their own. This leads to the question of whether everyday group interaction with like-minded friends intensity shared attitudes? The answer is that group polarization occurs in schools, communities, and even on the internet, where like-minded individuals associate increasingly with one another  Two ideas help explain why groups adopt stances that are more exaggerated than the average opinions of their individual members. They include: o Informational influence:
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