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  1. Relevant Background Factors

  2. Relevant Background Factors • Certain relevant background factors influence our behavior in small groups • Personality • Gender • Age • Health • Attitudes • Values

  3. Explaining Why We Do What We Do • Diversity: Groups in Conflict • All behavior occurs in some context. • Understanding cultural differences in behavior is critical, as the United States continues to become more and more diverse.

  4. Explaining Why We Do What We Do • Diversity: Groups in Conflict • Hamden-Turner and Trompenaars (2000) have identified six dimensions that distinguish people. 1. Universalism-particularism 2. Individualism-communitarianism 3. Specificity-diffusion 4. Achieved status-ascribed status 5. Inner direction-outer direction 6. Sequential time-synchronous time

  5. Personality as a background factor • Individual have different levels of needs. • Our communication is influence by our needs. • Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs. • Physiological needs • Security needs • Belongingness needs • Esteem needs • Self-actualization needs


  6. Extroversion/Introversion

  7. Personality • Schutz Interpersonal Need System • Schutz (1958, 1967, 1971) hypothesized that most people have three needs that operate when they communicate. • Inclusion • Control • Affection

  8. Personality • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) • The theory is that we all possess personality traits in pairs of opposite characteristics. • Extroversion (E) versus Introversion (I) • Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N) • Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F) • Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)

  9. Gender • Communication between genders is interesting and challenging. • Deborah Tannen’s (1995) research has demonstrated that men and women talk differently in group situations. • Loden (1990) found that women approach teamwork and participatory management differently than do men.

  10. Age • Communication patterns differ from childhood through adolescence to adulthood and old age. • Zenger and Lawrence (1989) found that age similarity of group members had a positive effect on the communication of information within project groups.

  11. Age • Fullerton, Kerch, and Dodge (1996) found that age was a good predictor of a person’s ethics. • As age increased, so did one’s ethical standards. • Chronological age is probably much less important than psychological age when it comes to working with others effectively.

  12. Health • Deficiencies in both physical and mental health of members seem to impede group performance.

  13. Practical Tips for Maintaining Cohesiveness • Banish soul searching about working for someone younger. • Avoid showing off your years of knowledge. • Share your experience collegially. • Be careful not to misinterpret younger person’s working methods. • Be aware that the unease is likely to cut both ways.

  14. Attitudes • Attitudes are defined as “predispositions towards action, about or toward people and things, evaluation of people, objects and ideas, and made up of emotional reactions, thoughts and beliefs, and action components. (www.ChangingMinds.org) • They can be learned or genetic and are sometimes impossible to change.

  15. Attitudes According to Triandis (1971), attitudes have three components: • a cognitive component 2. an affective component, and 3. a behavioral component.

  16. Heider’s Balance Theory Heider’s (1958) cognitive consistency theory suggests: • There is a need to maintain balance in any given triad (Person X, Person Y, Object or Person O). • A positive (+) relationship between two people (X, Y) and a + relationship to the object or other person (O) results in balance.

  17. Heider’s Balance Theory • A positive (+) relationship between two people (X, Y) who have a negative relationship to another person/object (O) results in imbalance. This results in pressure to restore balance. • Heider uses an algebraic formula to identify when relationships are balanced or not. • Eight different configurations can be made using positive and negative relationships

  18. Festinger’s (1957) Cognitive Dissonance theory • In order to maintain consistency among our beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors, we use certain mechanisms when conflict arises. • Rather than being in a state of imbalance or dissonance, we want to restore balance and have consonance.

  19. Festinger’s (1957) Cognitive Dissonance theory Ways to reduce dissonance include: • Devalue the importance of the issue • Derogate the disagreeing person • Attempt to change his/her attitude • Seek additional social support • Change your attitude

  20. Attitudes

  21. Attitudes

  22. Values • Attitudes and values are closely linked. • Rokeach (1968, 1971, 1973) has argued that people’s values are also important as a predictor of behavior. • Values are seen as more fundamental than attitudes and are more stable and long lasting.

  23. Review of the Systems Approach—Practical Tips Tropman (1996) identifies several value differences that can influence group discussions. • Multipurpose versus unipurpose • Pragmatism versus excellence • Status versus class • Personal versus organizational purpose • Empirical versus qualitative decision-making bases • Disposable labor versus intimate concern

  24. Practical Tips Promoting Diversity in the Virtual Space Step One: Introduction – Threaded Discussion Step Two: Self-Assessment Step Three: Discussion Step Four: Strategy Development