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Group Processes—chapter 9 . What is a group?. Members of your fraternity/sorority Your family Members of the St. Louis Cardinals Fans watching a Cardinals game Males Social psychologists A group of people occupying the same elevator. People who like watching The Sopranos

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which of these are meaningful groups
Members of your fraternity/sorority

Your family

Members of the St. Louis Cardinals

Fans watching a Cardinals game

Males

Social psychologists

A group of people occupying the same elevator

People who like watching The Sopranos

People who own sexy red sports cars

People who wear glasses

People who wear funny-looking glasses

People who notice other people’s funny-looking glasses

People who are sick of my “funny glasses” example

Which of these are meaningful groups?
an index of groupiness entitativity campbell 1958
An index of “groupiness”: entitativity (Campbell, 1958)
  • what specific factors lead to perceptions of high entitativity?
  • At least three:
    • Similarity, interaction, common goals
which of these are meaningful groups5
Members of your fraternity/sorority

Your family

Members of the St. Louis Cardinals

Fans watching a Cardinals game

Males

Social psychologists

A group of people occupying the same elevator

People who like watching The Sopranos

People who own sexy red sports cars

People who wear glasses

People who wear funny-looking glasses

People who notice other people’s funny-looking glasses

People who are sick of my “funny glasses” example

Which of these are meaningful groups?
classic paradigms in social facilitation
Classic paradigms in social facilitation
  • Perform task in Private, versus:
  • “co-actor”
  • “audience” (you plus others watching)

Public

  • First known study: Triplett (1898)
brief overview of social facilitation literature
Brief overview of social facilitation literature
  • Is performance improved or impaired in “public” (audience or co-actor) conditions ?
  • Decades of confusing results
  • Resolution: Zajonc (1965)
    • Dominant (habitual, well-learned) responses more likely in public

If dominant response yields correct answer: helps performance

If dominant response yields incorrect answer: hurts performance

zajonc study
Zajonc study
  • Pronounce words between 1 and 16 times
    • Creates “dominant” response:
      • Words pronounced most frequently = dominant
  • Words flashed very quickly: 1/100 second
    • Participants guess word
  • If others are present, more likely to guess “dominant” words
  • Findings replicated across dozens of studies
is social facilitation peculiar to human beings
Is social facilitation peculiar to human beings?
  • Zajonc believed that his theory applied not just to humans, but other species as well (!)
  • If so, this would be one of the very few, if not the only, social psychological theories to show such generalization
the cockroach study zajonc heingartner herman 1969
The cockroach study (Zajonc, Heingartner, & Herman, 1969)
  • Cockroaches placed in runway
  • Bright light shown
  • Run to other end of runway to escape light
  • Cockroach “spectators” or not
  • Perform faster with spectators
  • But only if maze is simple
social loafing
Social Loafing
  • Output of individual is diminished when working in a group
  • Ringelmann--rope pulling
    • Clapping, cheering
  • Why no social facilitation?
slide13

SOCIAL FACILITATION

Enhanced performance on simple tasks

Individual efforts can be evaluated

Arousal/ distraction

Impaired performance on complex tasks

Presence of others

SOCIAL LOAFING

Impaired performance on simple tasks

Individual efforts cannot be evaluated

Little arousal/evaluation apprehension

relaxation

Enhanced performance on complex tasks

jackson and williams 1986
Jackson and Williams (1986)
  • Simple vs. complex mazes on computer
  • Another participant worked on identical task in other room
  • Researcher:
    • Each performance would be evaluated separately, or
    • Computer would average scores (no accountability)
slide15

Time to complete maze

Typically produces arousal

evaluation

(long)

No evaluation

Arousal impedes performance here

Arousal facilitates performance here

(fast)

easy

difficult

Difficulty of mazes

individual differences in social loafing
Individual differences in social loafing
  • Men, more than women
  • Individualistic societies
  • Suggests that key factor is interdependent view of the self
slide18

exercise

If you could be totally invisible for 24 hours and were completely assured that you would not be detected or held responsible for your actions, what would you do?

theories of deindividuation
Theories of Deindividuation

Original view: loosening of normal constraints on behavior when people are in a crowd

Leading to…“mob behavior”

Robert Watson (1973) study

newer view of deindividuation
Newer view of Deindividuation
  • Two factors
    • Lower accountability
    • Increases obedience to “local” norms
initial issues
Initial issues
  • Most major decisions in the world are made by groups
    • United Nations, Courts (e.g. U.S. Supreme Court)
    • Elected bodies (e.g. Parliament, Congress)
    • Presidents rarely make decisions completely alone
  • WHY?
  • Are groups always better than single individuals?
    • Huge scientific literature on exactly this question!
process loss
Process loss
  • General term covering many group processes
    • Hamper extent to which groups can solve problems efficiently, effectively
  • “Social” losses
    • Conversation/interactions irrelevant to task
    • Distractions
  • Failure to share unique information
    • Stasser & Titus (1985)
groupthink
Groupthink
  • Probably most famous process loss
  • Definition: people begin to value group cohesiveness and solidarity more than the need to consider the facts in a realistic manner.
  • Can lead to disastrous decisions
    • JFK’s decision to invade Cuba
    • Challenger disaster (1986)
    • Possibly, Columbia accident (2003)
the road to groupthink
The road to groupthink

Symptoms

  • Illusion of invulnerability
  • Moral certainty
  • Stereotyped view of outgroup
  • Self-censorship
  • Direct pressure to conform
  • Illusion of unanimity
  • Mindguards

Antecedents

  • Group is (already) cohesive
  • Isolated
  • Directive leader
  • Stress
  • Poor decision-making rules

Defective decision making

  • Incomplete survey of alternatives
  • Failure to examine risks of favored alternative
  • Poor information search
  • Few contingency plans
specific steps to avoid groupthink
Specific steps to avoid groupthink
  • Leader—remain impartial (if possible)
  • Seek outside opinions
  • Create subgroups
  • Seek anonymous opinions
group polarization
Group polarization
  • Original finding (Stone, 1962) seemed to suggest “risky shift” (!!)
  • Newer view: group polarization, not riskiness per se
    • Whatever way the group is leaning initially, members tend to polarize further in that direction
who and what makes a great leader
Who (and what) makes a great leader?
  • The “holy grail” of social psychology!
  • Two general views
    • 1. The “great person” theory
      • Leadership and personality
        • Fascinating study by Dean Simonton on U.S. presidents
        • General picture—no such thing as “leadership personality”
    • 2. “Right person in right situation” view
      • Contingency theory of leadership
      • Received good support
  • Gender and leadership
social dilemmas
Social dilemmas

What’s best for the individual is not always best for the group, and vice-versa.

examples of social dilemmas
Examples of social dilemmas
  • Common goods dilemma
    • Tragedy of the Commons” (Hardin, 1968)
  • Contribution to public television/radio
  • The Matzo ball soup dilemma
  • Stephen King’s on-line novel--The Plant

King issued the installments under an honor-system payment model, asking readers to pay for $l for each chapter downloaded and promising to keep writing only if at least 75% of the readers complied. "If you pay, the story rolls. If you don\'t, the story folds," he wrote on his Web site. But King staffers said that only 46% of the downloads of the first few chapter were paid for, and the experiment was suspended.

why social dilemmas are common
Why social dilemmas are common
  • Dilemmas could be avoided if people put their total trust in others and if they weren’t so selfish
    • Yeah, right….
  • Not to say that social dilemmas are inevitable
  • But they are hard to resist
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