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Ψ  Group Influence

Click here to go to an alternate Chapter 8 outline.

    Ψ  A Group consists of two or more people who interact & influence one another. They perceive themselves as "us" (not "them").

    Ψ  The tendency for people to perform tasks better when in the presence of others was called social facilitation. However, contradictory studies showed that the presence of others could hurt performance for completing complex mental problems.

    Ψ  Coactors (a special kind of audience): People who are work on the same noncompetitive task at the same time. When you play on a sports team, work on team or organizational group at the office, do a group project together, or anything where you work with other people toward a goal without competing with them, you are all coactors. This is an important component to social facilitation (improved performance) & the study of how people influence each other.

    Ψ  Robert Zajonc -- Theorized that performance was linked to arousal state, not simply to the presence of others. When tasks are simple, increased arousal helps performance, but when tasks are difficult, increased arousal can hurt performance.

     New Current definition of Social Facilitation: The strengthening of simple or dominant (well learned) responses due to the presence of others.

    Ψ  Crowds: Being in a crowd intensifies positive & negative emotions. The bigger the crowd the bigger its effect. Bottom line: crowding enhances arousal, which facilitates dominant responses.

    Ψ  Why are we aroused in the presence other?

        •  Evaluation Apprehension: fear of being judged by others (either formally or informally) can increase our arousal. The self-consciousness we feel when being evaluated can interfere even with behaviors we perform automatically.

              When tasks are relatively easy, we find the presence of other people a positive stimulus such that we perform even better. However, when the tasks are difficult, we find an audience unnerving & do worse. It seems that the presence of others increases physiological arousal such that our bodies become more energized, and when we are aroused it is more difficult to perform new or difficult tasks. The dominant response, under arousal, is easier to perform.

              Concern for how others are evaluating us, evaluation apprehension may well change our performance because, depending on how we forecast that evaluation, we may look forward to either adulation or criticism & rejection. e.g. Michaels (1982) & 3 colleagues overtly watched students play pool. The better players got better. The novices got worse.

        •  Distraction: When people focus on how others are reacting to them, those thoughts become distracting, & can hamper performance on complex tasks in the presence of others.

        •  Mere Presence: Even in situations where there should be no evaluation apprehension or distraction, social facilitation can still occur. Social facilitation effects have been shown to occur with animals.

    Ψ  Suggestion: When you want someone to do well, give them an audience for an easy task. If you want to destabilize them (especially if they are not very competent), give them an audience for a difficult task.

     Ψ  Social Loafing: The tendency for people to exert less effort when they pool their effort toward a common goal than when they are individually responsible.

     Ψ  Free riders are people who consume more than their fair share of a resource, or shoulder less than a fair share of the costs of its production.

     Ψ  Social Loafing: occurs on "additive tasks" where the group's achievement depends on the sum of the individual efforts.

     Ψ  Social Loafing: does not occur when people work towards individual goals & their efforts can be individually evaluated, social facilitation does.

     Ψ  Social loafing is the phenomenon that persons make less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone. This is one of the main reasons that groups sometimes perform less than the combined performance of their members working as individuals.

     Ψ  Social loafing increases (to a point) as group size increases. Jackson & Wiliams (1988) performed a meta-analysis on 49 social loafing studies & correlated the amount of social loafing with the group size. The meta-analysis showed that social loafing increased as group sized increased to 10( 78% of individual effort), with little difference being shown once group size was greater than ten.

     Ψ  A possible reason for social loafing is a decrease in evaluation apprehension.

     Ψ  Social loafing is reduced to the extent a task is challenging, appealing, & involving. Also, the commitment one feels toward a group can affect social loafing.

     Ψ  To avoid social loafing, make sure everyone in a group knows that they can easily be evaluated by others. If you are a social loafer, then by all means find work where nobody can point at you & say you are not pulling your weight.

     Ψ  When working in a team, ensure there are no social loafers, either by discussing the principle (prodding consciences) or ensuring nobody can hide in the woodwork.

     Ψ  Deindividuation refers to the phenomenon of relinquishing one's sense of identity. This can happen as a result of becoming part of a group.
     •  Deindividuation involves a loss of self-awareness & evaluation apprehension.
      • Deindividuation occurs in group situations that foster responsiveness to group norms (good or bad).

     Ψ  The amount of unrestrained behavior exhibited by people is directly proportional to the size of the group they are in.

     Ψ  Anonymity lessens inhibitions & contributes to deindividuation. You can become "lost in the crowd" physically & virtually.

     Ψ  Consider:

     •  Social facilitation increases group arousal.
      •  Social loafing in groups cause a diffusion of individual responsibility .
       •  Arousal + diffused responsibility = diminishment of normal inhibitions.
        •  Add anonymity
         •  Add distracting activities to the mix to further arouse & divert people's attention.
          •  result: deindividuation & unrestrained behavior.

    New  Be self-aware; maintain your personal identity; don't become deindividuated!

Ψ  Risky Shift Phenomenon: When people are in groups, they are likely to make riskier decisions. Perhaps the shared risk (diffusion of responsibility) makes the individual risk seem less.

•  Group polarization effects have been demonstrated to exaggerate the inclinations of group members after a discussion. A military term for group polarization is "incestuous amplification".

Ψ  Mechanisms of Polarization

•  Normative influence:  a.k.a. Social comparison: Power exerted on an individual by a reference group to conform to the group's (or generally accepted) norms of behavior.
•  Informational influence:  a.k.a. Persuasive Argument Theory, or PAT. PAT holds that individual choices are determined by individuals weighing remembered pro & con arguments. These arguments are then applied to possible choices, & the most positive is selected. As a mechanism for polarization, group discussion shifts the weight of evidence as each individual exposes their pro & con arguments, giving each other new arguments & increasing the stock of pro arguments in favor of the group tendency, & con arguments against the group tendency. The persuasiveness of an argument depends on two factors – originality & its validity. According to PAT, a valid argument would hold more persuasive weight than a non-valid one. Originality has come to be understood in terms of the novelty of an argument. A more novel argument would increase the likelihood that it is an addition to the other group members’ pool of pro & con arguments, rather than a simple repetition. Informational influence is the best supported explanation! Simply put: group discussion elicits a pooling of ideas, most of which favor the dominant viewpoint.

Eight Main Symptoms of Group Think

   1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.

   2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.

   3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.

   4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative sterotypes of rivals outside the group.

   5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.

   6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.

   7. llusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent.

   8. Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.

Avoiding Group Think

    The group should be made aware of the causes and consequences of group think.

    The leader should be neutral when assigning a decision-making task to a group, initially withholding all preferences and expectations. This practice will be especially effective if the leaders consistently encourages an atmosphere of open inquiry.

    The leader should give high priority to airing objections & doubts, and be accepting of criticism.

    Groups should always consider unpopular alternatives. Assign the role of devil's advocate to several strong members of the group!

    Sometimes it is useful to divide the group into two separate deliberative bodies as feasibilities are evaluated.

    Spend a sizable amount of time surveying all warning signals from rival group & organizations.

    After reaching a preliminary consensus on a decision, all residual doubts should be expressed & the matter reconsidered.

    Outside experts should be included in vital decision making.

    Tentative decisions should be discussed with trusted colleagues not in the decision-making group.

    The organization should routinely follow the administrative practice of establishing several independent decision-making groups to work on the same critical issue or policy.

Ψ  Social situations influence the individual & individuals influence social situations. They interact!

Ψ  The interaction of persons & situations occurs in at least 3 ways:

1. Social situations affect different people differently
 2. People often choose their situations
  3. People often create their situations

Ψ  The reciprocal causation between people & their situations allow us to see people as either reacting to or acting upon their environment. Each way of looking at it is correct for "We are both products & architects of our social worlds." - unknown.

   •  "The essence of reactance is rebellion." - unknown

Ψ  Psychological Reactance: People act to protect their sense of freedom. Attempts to restrict a person's freedom often produce an anti conformity "boomerang effect".

Ψ  Asserting Uniqueness: People feel uncomfortable when they appear too different from others. In Individualistic cultures like ours people also feel uncomfortable when they appear exactly like everyone else. We seek distinctiveness.

   •  "All history is a record of the power of minorities, and of minorities of one." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ψ  Minority Influence: a form of social influence, which takes place when a majority is being influenced to accept the beliefs or behavior of a minority.

Ψ  Determinants of Minority Influence:

1. Consistency: A minority that sticks to its position can become highly influential. This is largely because, even if not popular, it will soon become the focus of the debate, & the position supported by the most arguments usually wins.
2. Self-confidence: Self-assurance may raise self-doubt in others, hence prompting them to re-consider their position. This is especially true for matters of attitude, more so than for matters of fact.
3. Defection from the Majority: A persistent minority punctures any illusions of unanimity & thus allows majority members greater freedom to express their own doubts & even change position.

   •  "A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. " - James Crook

Ψ  Leadership: "The ability of an individual to influence, motivate, & enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness & success of the organizations of which they are members."

•  Task Leaders: good at organizing work, setting standards, & goal attainment focus. Often have a directive style of leadership.

•  Social Leaders: good at building team work, mediating conflicts, & being supportive. Often have a democratic style of leadership.

Ψ  Effective Leaders:

1. engender trust by consistently sticking to their goals.
 2. exude a self-confident charisma that makes loyal followers.
  3. have a compelling vision for the future.
   4. high level communication skills.
    5. the ability to inspire.

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates

New  “Be around the people you want to be like, because you will be like the people you are around.”

- Sean Reichle