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Chapter 12

Textbook Chapter 12 - Groups

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Emily Impett

Chapter Twelve: Groups The Nature and Purpose of Group Living  Humans and all large primates live in groups except orangutans. Groups offered ancestors protection from predators, efficiency in gathering food, help with rearing children, and defense against human aggressors o Benefits are crucial to survival and we have a psychological need to be with others and belong to groups  Groups are a collection of individuals who have relations to one another that make them interdependent to some significant degree o Ex: people in an elevator would not be considered a group because they aren’t very interdependent but if the elevator breaks down they become interdependent taking joint action and thus are more of a group.  Interdependence varies and so do whether or not a collection of people form a group Social Facilitation Social Facilitation: initially a term for enhanced performance in the presence of others; now a broader term for the effect – positive or negative – of the presence of others on performance INITIALRESEARCH  Norman Triplett examined the effect of other people’s presence on human performance and found that it tended to facilitate human performance  Experiment: 40 children turned a fishing reel as fast as they could on six trials with rest periods in between. 3 trials – alone, 3 trials – alongside another child o Children turned the reel faster when in the presence of another child engaged in the same activity. – This is social facilitation research  Same effects obtained when other present were not doing the same thing but were just present as passive observers  Same effect observed in multiple animal species – phenomenon is general and fundamental  Some exceptions came about after his findings. Ex: students at Harvard were to make philosophical arguments in 5mins and students had higher quality refutations alone rather than in the presence of another student RESOLVING THE CONTRADICTIONS Zajonc’s Theory  The mere presence of others tends to facilitate performance on simple or well- learned tasks, but hinders performance on difficult or novel tasks  The mere presence of others makes a person more aroused  Arousal makes a person more likely to make a dominant response: in an individual’s hierarchy of responses, the response he or she is most likely to make.  For easy or well-learned tasks, the dominant response is likely to be the correct response. The presence of others facilitates your dominant response, facilitates the correct response, and improves performance. o For difficult or novel tasks however, the dominant response is unlikely to be the correct response, therefore the presence of others facilitates an incorrect response and hinders performance. M EREP RESENCE OREVALUATION A PPREHENSION? Evaluation Apprehension: people’s concern about how they might appear in the eyes of others – that is, about being evaluated  Instead of the mere presence of people increasing arousal, it might be evaluation apprehension instead Testing for Evaluation Apprehension  Three conditions: subject performing alone, in front of an evaluative audience, and in front of an audience that can’t evaluate the subject’s performance  Participants given a list of ten nonsense words, asked to pronounce 2/10 words once, 2 words 2x, 2 words 5x, 2 words 10x, and 2 words 25x – some words became more familiar.  Participants told same words were to be flashed on a screen briefly (some so brief you can’t even see them) and you had to identify each word as shown and if you can’t you should guess. – No target words were shown and you had to guess (pseudo-recognition test)  Task performed 1 – alone, 2 – presence of fellow students watching attentively, 3 – presence of blindfolded observers (couldn’t evaluate them)  Tested how often participants guessed a dominant word (25x). in condition 2, dominant responses were more than blindfolded audience and alone whose results were similar  Thus it is the concern about others instead of their mere presence that is responsible for social facilitation Testing for Mere Presence  Although participants were alone objectively, they may not have been alone psychologically o Feel apprehensive about their performance being recorded  Evaluation apprension can add to a person’s arousal and thus compound the effect of mere presence. Overall results and similar investigations strongly support Zajonc’s theory. FURTHER P ERSPECTIVES ONSOCIALFACILITATION Distraction-conflict theory: a theory based on the idea that being aware of another person’s presence creates a conflict between attending to that person, and attending to the task at hand, and that this attentional conflict is arousing and produces social facilitation effects Social loafing: the tendency to exert less effort when working on a group task in which individual contributions cannot be monitored  Contributions are not seen as crucial to the success of an effort so individual contributions cannot be assessed PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS  Study alone when material is unfamiliar, and study groups for reviewing or dividing and summarizing vast amounts of material  If task is simple and repetitive but workforce is highly motivated then setting should be people in contact with one another, but if task is challenging and ever- changing maybe privacy is better Group Decision Making  Groups that can’t decide what to do or how to act don’t function well  Assume decisions made by groups are better than those made alone (many heads better than one)  Although arriving at the best answer is the group’s goal, it may not be for the individual group members; they could be more concerned about how they will be judged by everyone else, hurting others feelings etc. G ROUPTHINK Groupthink: (Irving Janis) a kind of faulty thinking by highly cohesive groups in which the critical scrutiny that should be devoted to the issues at hand is subverted by social pressures to reach consensus Symptoms and Sources of Groupthink Antecedent Symptoms of Symptoms of conditions Motivation Groupthink Defective •high Decision Making cohesiveness • concurrence •illusion of seeking invulnerability •incomplete •insulation of the •collective survey of group rationalization objectives •lack of •belief in •incomplete procedures for inherent survey of information morality of the alternatives search and group •poor information appraisal search •directive •stereotypes of •failure to leadership outgroups examine risks of •high stress wth a •direct pressure preferred choices low degree of on dissenters •selective bias in •self-censorship processing hope for finding •illusion of information at a better solution unanimity handfailure to than the one reappraise favored by the alternativesfailur leader or other e to work out influential contingency people plans  The issue is probably stressful that groups seek the reassurance of premature consensus so the strong leaders and drive to find consensus breed self- censorship: the tendency to withhold information or opinions in group discussions Preventing Groupthink  More open discussion can take place if the leader doesn’t make their preference known at the beginning  Groups can avoid tunnel vision by making sure they’re not cut off from outside input  People not there at the beginning of the discussion can give new perspectives and stop rash decisions  Designate one person to name weaknesses in groups proposed plan of action Groupthink in Other Cultures  Drive toward harmony is greater in East Asian cultures than Western cultures  Groupthink in Japan is large, even at scientific meetings there is rarely true debate – they usually just nod along o But managers usually discuss matters individually before the meeting to find out their views, and as a
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