Work Groups and Teams

Group and Social Influence on
Behavior and Decision Making
Group Roles
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts”
• Refers to a notion of public behaviour
(rules, norms, expectations) that the person
believes is appropriate for the sitation and
his or her position in it
Role Playing
Three Categories
• Self oriented roles
– motivated mainly to fulfill personal needs; tend to be
less productive
• Group-maintenance roles
– Help members to work well together
• Task-facilitating roles
– Help members solve the problem or make the decision
giving or
Group Norms
• Shared attitudes, opinions, feelings, or
actions that guide behaviour
1.) an agenda for acceptable behaviour
2.) provide roles
3.) group survival – suppress and reject
4.) provide identification – gives group
Occurs when individuals adopt the attitude or
behaviour of others because of real or
imagined pressure to do so
Conforming to group norms allows groups to
function effectively
Conformity pressures can sometimes make us
act against our better judgement
Asch Studies – 1950s
Conducted conformity experiments on group
• Groups of 7 (6
accomplices and one
• Instructed his
accomplices to answer
incorrectly on 12 of
the 18 trials
• Subjects conformed
35% of the time
Asch’s Conformity Experiment
Key factors influencing conformity
1. Group size
As groups grow larger conformity increases – to a
– Conformity increased as group size went from 2 to 4 and
peaked at 7
2. Group unanimity
Presence of one dissenter lowered conformity
Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment (1971)
Degradation Procedures
deloused prisoners as they do in this Texas
prison photograph
Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment
• Tendency to conform to the expected social
roles for guards and prisoners
• Degree to which roles shape attitudes and
Obedience: The Power of
• Obedience:
– Form of compliance that occurs when people
follow direct commands from someone in a
position of authority
Stanley Milgram’s Obedience
Studies (1963)
• 65% (26/40) adminstered all 30 levels of
shocks. Highest level was up to 450 volts, a
shock of fatal intensity
• Subjects focused on approval of authority
figure rather than the pain they inflicted on
the victim
Milgram’s Studies
• Obedience increased when:
1.) authority figure was near the subjects
2.) when the victim was less visible and less
audible to the subject
3.) when the experiment was conducted in a
prestigious university
Milgram’s Studies
“our actions are determined less by the kind of
people we are than by the kind of situation
we are in”
• We don’t lose sense of morality but we start
to focus on how well we are living up to the
expectations of the authority figure
• Subjects who agree to participate in a
scientific experiment expect to obey orders
– Milgram’s response: So do soldiers and
bureaucrats in the real world who are accused
of terrible acts performed in obedience to
• Ethics
– Milgram used extensive deception
Social Influence on Behaviour
• Presence of others can influence our
behaviour – even when not attempting to do
- “choking under pressure” – because of
elevated self-consciousness
Bystander Effect
• Individuals are less likely to provide needed help
when others are present than when they are alone
• Tendency to seek help declines as number of
bystanders increased –
– Occurs in ambiguous situations
– Diffusion of responsibility – expecting others to take
Decision Making in Groups
Group Cohesiveness
• Refers to the strength of the bonds that link
group members to one another and to the
group itself
+ communicate more and participate more
- increases pressure to conform
Perceived threat increases group cohesiveness
• When members of a cohesive group
emphasise concurrence at the expense of
critical thinking in arriving at a decision
• A deterioration of mental efficiency, reality
testing and moral judgement that results
from in-group pressure
Examples of groupthink
Bay of Pigs
Escalation of the Vietnam War
Space shuttle challenger
Failure to prepare for the invasion of Pearl
Existing conditions that could
lead to groupthink
High cohesiveness
Insulation of group
Lack of methodical procedures
Directive leadership
High stress with low degree of hope for
finding better solution
Groupthink Symptoms
• Illusion of group invulnerability
• Rationalisation/suppression of non-supporting
• Belief in inherent morality of group
• Stereotyping of “out groups”
• Pressure on deviants to conform
• Illusion of unanimity
• Self appointed mind guard
– Tries to shield group from information that contradicts
the group’s view
Groupthink Preventitive Steps
Leader encourages expressions of doubt
Leader accepts criticisms of own ideas
High status members speak last
Recommendations from duplicate group
Divide into sub groups from time to time
Invite objective outsiders
Assign devils advocate role