Roles, norms, and cohesiveness. Problems of decision making and brainstorming in groups.   no comments

Posted at 1:30 am in Psychology,Sociology

I have almost finished my reading of the book “Social Psychology”, 5th edition, S. Brehm et al and I will review material from other texts in psychology, and sociology. Mainly the textbooks already identified in the initial blog posting.

One of my aims for this week was to review some of the outputs of groups. After careful reading I decided that best approach is to review group processes and their affect on outcomes, rather than focus on outcomes. Two of main exercises that groups are engaged in are decision making and brainstorming. Decision making in groups often suffers from phenomenon known as groupthink. Groupthink describes polarization and bias in group decision making. Researchers found that group discussion usually exaggerates the initial leanings of a group. Group polarization is when group members simply find about other people’s opinions. It is an example of social comparison, when individuals forming a view of social reality by comparing themselves with others. They then distinguish themselves within the group by adopting more extreme position of the group norm. Social categorisation also plays part in groupthink. People want to be part of ingroup, distinguish their own group, and so they stay away from arguments or taking a stance that would leave them in a position of being viewed as part of an outgroup.

Creative ideas are second outputs of a group I will discuss. Group members who interact face to face actually produce fewer creative ideas when brainstorming than nominal groups (several individuals working alone). Computers making use of the network of the Internet offer promising improvements to group brainstorming. They combine freedom of being alone at a PC with the stimulation of new ideas over the Internet. Some recent studies of online groups have shown that in many cases online groups are even better at brainstorming than nominal groups.

In regards to projects, groups are even more prone to feeling entrapped by previous commitments and are less likely to withhold investments from failing projects. One other phenomena which I found very interesting was the resource dilemma. This describes when larger groups are more likely to exhibit selfish behaviour in a situation with limited resources than smaller groups. This occurs partly because in a larger group establishing norms of co-operation are less likely, people are less committed to each other and perceive that their actions have less impact. Do online groups suffer as much from resource dilemma than offline groups? Arguably less so and many have even referred to the Internet as the “Copying Machine” for digital artefacts. I had some difficulty finding cases of resource dilemma in online groups and it would be an interesting exercise for any Web Sicentist to find examples of this and document them. Scarcity of digital material or resources on Internet isn’t usually an issue. Bits are easily copied and easily reproduced, much to the angst of rightsholders who have problems with the “copy and share” mentality of filesharing groups. I may come to look at online and offline groups who engage in file sharing as this seems to be a highly debated and hot topic at moment, especially as Digital Economy Bill has several proposals to tackle groups and individuals engaged in this activity.

Written by cm7e09 on March 13th, 2010

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