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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 - Group Processes (Part II)

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PSYC 215
Michael Sullivan

Chapter 8 Group ProcessesIn 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wrights plane flew precariously near Killy Hawk North Carolina Many had tried and failed before then Within a few decades of Orvilles first 12second flight people would fly across vast lands and oceans Later men walked on the moon Historical examples of what can be accomplished when people work together Columbia a space shuttle that disintegrated minutes away from its schedule landing on February 1 2003 is a lesson of how group processes can lead to bad even catastrophic decision making The NASA managers failed to adequately consider concerns of the state of Columbia Although the physical causes in this incident Columbia were very different from those implicated in the 1986 NASA tragedy when the space shuttle Challenger exploded during its ascent the flawed group dynamics were shockingly similar oSeveral engineers that made the Challengers solid rocket boosters warned that launching in cold temperatures could cause the Oring seals in the rocket boosters to fail which would cause catastrophic explosion oOn the morning of January 28 1986 the temperature at the launch pad was below freezing When the Challenger exploded it was found that the Oring seals had indeed failed We all work in groups and we are all affected by them Group processes that contributed to both the accomplishments and tragedies of the first century of flight affect our own lives in countless ways People are often at their bestand their worstin groups It is also through groups that stereotypes turn into oppression frustrations turn into mob violence and conflicts turn into wars Important to understand how groups work and how individuals influence and are influenced by groups Groups can be quite different from the sum of their partsAt the individual level we explore how individuals are influenced by groups at the group level we explore how groups perform and at the intergroup level we explore how groups interact with each other in cooperation and competition Collective Processes The Presence of OthersA group is characterized as two or more people perceived as having at least one of the following characteristics1Direct interactions with each other over a period of time2Joint membership in a social category based on sex race or other attributes3A shared common fate identity or set of goals We will focus on the first and third criteria Richard Moreland and Jamie McMinn 2004 distinguish between these perceptions of how entitative particular groups seem and the actual degree of social integration of groups which is the extent to which group members act think and feel like a single individual Collectivespeople engaging in a common activity but having little direct interaction with each other Eg people attending a concert or working out near each other in a gym 1Collective processes influence individuals when they are in the presence of others whether in real groups or collectives Social Facilitation When Others Arouse UsThe presence of others affects behaviour The presence of others side by side or with an audience out front enhanced performanceoNorman Triplett noticed that cyclists who competed against others performed better than those who cycled alone against the clock The presence of another rider releases the competitive instinct which increases nervous energy and enhances performance oTriplett got 40 children wo wind up fishing reels On average winding time was faster when the children worked side by side than when they worked alone Later research disapproved his conclusion at some times the presence of others declined performanceRobert Zajonc 1965 1980 offered solution the presence of others increases arousal which can affect performance in different ways depending on the task at hand The Zajonc Solution1The presence of others creates general physiological arousal which energizes behaviour He argued that all animals including humans tend to become aroused when in the presence of conspecificsthat is members of their own species 2Increased arousal enhances an individuals tendency to perform the dominant response The dominant response is the reaction elicited most quickly and easily by a given stimulus3The quality of an individuals performance varies according to the type of task On an easy task the dominant response is usually correct or successful Bus on a difficult task complex or unfamiliar the dominant response is often incorrect or unsuccessful eg an excellent musicians performance will be enhanced at a concertthe presence of others will increase your arousal which will enhance your dominant response However for the novice musicians performance in front of othersthe increase in arousal should enhance the dominant response which in this case would be unsuccessful music playing If you are already good at the task you may need the extra juice that comes from performing in front of others to help you rise to new heights and perform even better than you would if performing alone Social facilitationa process whereby the presence of others enhances performance on easy tasks but impairs performance on difficult tasks The presence of others facilitates the dominant response not necessarily the task itself This facilitates easy tasks but it makes difficult tasks even more difficult Social facilitation is universal occurring among other animals even insects oZajonc and his colleagues 1969 placed insects in a brightly lit start box connected to a darkened goal box When the track was a simple one straight run from the start box to 2
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