"All for one, and one for all"
Alexandre Dumas (1802 - 1870)
|Skill Level||Facilitation: Increased Population||Inhibition: Decrease Performance|
|Well Learned||Bicycle Racing
Ant Nest Building
Learning Nonsense Syllables
Completing a Maze
Exhibit 1: Task affected by social facilitation and social inhibition
Audience Effects→ The phenomenon of audience effects takes place when a group of people passively wathches an individual. An example would be a sporting event held in an arena. The strength of the effect of having an audience present is a function of at least three factors:
its physical proximity to the group
Thus, groups are more likely to be affected by large audiences of experts who are physically close to the group.
Coaction→ the effect on behavior when two or more people are performing the same task in the presence of one another is called coaction. Examples would be two runners competing against each other without a crowd present. Research findings suggest that coaction decreases performance and productivity.
In the social psychology of groups, 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.
The main explanation for social loafing is that people feel unmotivated when working in a group, because they think that their contributions will not be evaluated. According to the results of a meta-analysis study (Karau & Williams, 1993), social loafing is a pervasive phenomenon, but it does not occur when the group members feel that the task or the group itself is important.
The answer to social loafing is motivation. A competitive environment will not get group members motivated. It takes "the three C's of motivation" to get a group moving: collaboration, content, and choice (Rothwell, 2004).
Collaboration is a way to get everyone involved in the group. It is a way for the group members to share the knowledge and the tasks to be fulfilled unfailingly (CSCW, 2000). For example, giving Sally the note taker duty and RaÃºl the brainstorming duty will make them feel essential to the group. Sally and RaÃºl won't want to let the group down, because they have specific obligations to complete.
Content identifies the importance of the individuals' specific tasks within the group. If group members see their role as a worthy task, then they are more likely to fulfill it. For example, RaÃºl enjoys brainstorming, and he knows that he will bring a lot to the group if he fulfills this obligation. He feels that his obligation means something to the group.
Deindividuation refers to the phenomenon of relinquishing one's sense of identity. This can happen as a result of becoming part of a group, such as an army or mob, but also as a result of meditation. It can have quite destructive effects, sometimes making people more likely to commit a crime, like stealing (Diener, 1976) or even over-enforce the law, such as police in riot situations. It is the motivational cause of most riot participants' actions for example, the violent 1992 riots that took place in LA's south central district. Deindividuated individuals' selfawareness becomes absent and they are oblivious to outside evaluation. This is when evaluation apprehension ceases to exist, ultimately breaking down any inhibitions.
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".
Overview→ Study of this effect has shown that after participating in a discussion group, members tend to advocate more extreme positions and call for riskier courses of action than individuals who did not participate in any such discussion. This phenomenon was originally coined risky shift but was found to apply to more than risk, so the replacement term choice shift has been suggested.
In addition, attitudes such as racial and sexual prejudice tend to be reduced (for already lowprejudice individuals) and inflated (for already high-prejudice individuals) after group discussion.
Group polarization has been used to explain the decision-making of a jury, particularly when considering punitive damages in a civil trial. Studies have shown that after deliberating together, mock jury members often decided on punitive damage awards that were larger or smaller than the amount any individual juror had favored prior to deliberation. The studies indicated that when the jurors favored a relatively low award, discussion would lead to an even more lenient result, while if the jury was inclined to impose a stiff penalty, discussion would make it even harsher.
Developments in the study of group polarization→ The study of group polarization began with an unpublished 1961 Masterâ€(tm)s thesis by MIT student James Stoner, who observed the so-called "risky shift", meaning that a groupâ€(tm)s decisions are riskier than the average of the individual decisions of members before the group met. The discovery of the risky shift was considered surprising and counterintuitive, especially since earlier work in the 1920s and 1930s by Allport and other researchers suggested that individuals made more extreme decisions than did groups, leading to the expectation that groups would make decisions that would conform to the average risk level of its members. The seemingly counterintuitive findings of Stoner led to a flurry of research around the risky shift, which was originally thought to be a special case exception to the standard decision-making practice. By the late 1960s, however, it had become clear that the risky shift was just one type of many attitudes that became more extreme in groups, leading Moscovici and Zavalloni to term the overall phenomenon "group polarization".
Thus began a decade-long period of examination of the applicability of group polarization to a number of fields, ranging from political attitudes to religion, in both lab and field settings. Basic studies of group polarization tapered off, but research on the topic continued. Group polarization was well-established, but remained non-obvious and puzzling because its mechanisms were not understood.
Mechanisms of polarization→ Almost as soon as the phenomenon of group polarization was discovered, a variety of hypotheses were suggested for the mechanisms for its action. These explanations were gradually winnowed down and grouped together until two primary mechanisms remained, social comparison and influence. Social comparison approaches, sometimes called interpersonal comparison, were based on social psychological views of self-perception and the drive of individuals to appear socially desirable . The second major mechanism is informational influence, which is also sometimes referred to as persuasive argument theory, or PAT. PAT holds that individual choices are determined by individuals weighing remembered pro and con arguments. These arguments are then applied to possible choices, and the most positive is selected. As a mechanism for polarization, group discussion shifts the weight of evidence as each individual exposes their pro and con arguments, giving each other new arguments and increasing the stock of pro arguments in favor of the group tendency, and con arguments against the group tendency. The persuasiveness of an argument depends on two factors â€" originality and 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 membersâ€(tm) pool of pro and con arguments, rather than a simple repetition.
In the 1970s, significant arguments occurred over whether persuasive argumentation alone accounted for group polarization. Daniel Isenbergâ€(tm)s 1986 meta-analysis of the data gathered by both the persuasive argument and social comparison camps succeeded, in large part, in answering the questions about predominant mechanisms. Isenberg concluded that there was substantial evidence that both effects were operating simultaneously, and that PAT operated when social comparison did not, and vice-versa. Isenberg did discover that PAT did seem to have a significantly stronger effect, however.
Groupthink is a term coined by psychologist Irving Janis in 1972 to describe a process by which a group can make bad or irrational decisions. In a groupthink situation, each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group. In a general sense this seems to be a very rationalistic way to approach the situation. However this results in a situation in which the group ultimately agrees upon an action which each member might individually consider to be unwise (the risky shift). Janis' original definition of the term was "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action." The word groupthink was intended to be reminiscent of George Orwell's coinages (such as doublethink and duckspeak) from the fictional language Newspeak, which he portrayed in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Groupthink tends to occur on committees and in large organizations. Janis originally studied the Pearl Harbor bombing, the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Recently, in 2004, the US Senate Intelligence Committee's Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq blamed groupthink for failures to correctly interpret intelligence relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.
Symptoms of groupthink→ Janis cited a number of antecedent conditions that would be likely to encourage groupthink. These include:
Insulation of the group
High group cohesiveness
Lack of norms requiring methodical procedures
Homogeneity of members' social background and ideology
High stress from external threats with low hope of a better solution than the one offered by the leader(s)
Janis listed eight symptoms that he said were indicative of groupthink:
Illusion of invulnerability
Unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group
Collective rationalization of group's decisions
Shared stereotypes of outgroup, particularly opponents
Self-censorship; members withhold criticisms
Illusion of unanimity
Direct pressure on dissenters to conform
Self-appointed "mindguards" protect the group from negative information
Finally, the seven symptoms of decision affected by groupthink are:
Incomplete survey of alternatives
Incomplete survey of objectives
Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
Failure to re-appraise initially rejected alternatives
Poor information search
Selective bias in processing information at hand
Preventing groupthink→ One mechanism which management consultants recommend to avoid groupthink is to place responsibility and authority for a decision in the hands of a single person who can turn to others for advice. Others advise that a pre-selected individual take the role of disagreeing with any suggestion presented, thereby making other individuals more likely to present their own ideas and point out flaws in others' â€" and reducing the stigma associated with being the first to take negative stances.
Anonymous feedback via suggestion box or online chat has been found to be a useful remedy for groupthink â€" negative or dissenting views of proposals can be raised without any individual being identifiable by others as having lodged a critique. Thus the social capital of the group is preserved, as all members have plausible deniability that they raised a dissenting point.
Institutional mechanisms such as an inspector general system can also play a role in preventing groupthink as all participants have the option of appealing to an individual outside the decisionmaking group who has the authority to stop non-constructive or harmful trends.
Another possibility is giving each participant in a group a piece of paper, this is done randomly and without anyone but the receiver being able to read it. Two of the pieces of paper have "dissent" written on them, the others are blank. People have to dissent if the paper says so (like a Devil's Advocate), no-one is able to know if the other person is expressing dissent because they received a pre-marked "dissent" piece of paper or because it's an honest dissent. Also, as with every Devil's Advocate, there exists the possibility that the person adopting this role would think about the problem in a way that they wouldn't have if not under that role, and so promoting creative and critical thought.
Another way which is of special use in very asymmetric relations (as in a classroom) is to say something which is essentially wrong or false, having given (or being obvious that the persons that may be groupthinking know about that) the needed information to realize its inconsistency previously, if at the start of the class the teacher told the students that he would do so and not tell them when he did until the end of the class, they would be stimulated to criticize and "process" information instead of merely assimilating it.
An alternative to groupthink is a formal consensus decision-making process, which works best in a group whose aims are cooperative rather than competitive, where trust is able to build up, and where participants are willing to learn and apply facilitation skills.
Notes→ The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that "the Intelligence Community (IC) suffered from a collective presumption that Iraq had an active and growing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program. This "group think" dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors, and managers, to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs. This presumption was so strong that formalized IC mechanisms established to challenge assumptions and group think were not utilized."
A social network is a social structure between actors, mostly individuals or organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds. The term was first coined in 1954 by J. A. Barnes (in: Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish, "Human Relations").
Social network analysis (also sometimes called network theory) has emerged as a key technique in modern sociology, anthropology, Social Psychology and organizational studies, as well as a popular topic of speculation and study. Research in a number of academic fields have demonstrated that social networks operate on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals. Social networking also refers to a category of Internet applications to help connect friends, business partners, or other individuals together using a variety of tools. These applications are covered under Internet social networks below, and in the external links at the end of the article.
Introduction to social networks
Figure 6: An example of a social network diagram
Social network theory views social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within the networks, and ties are the relationships between the actors. There can be many kinds of ties between the nodes. In its most simple form, a social network is a map of all of the relevant ties between the nodes being studied. The network can also be used to determine the social capital of individual actors. These concepts are often displayed in a social network diagram, where nodes are the points and ties are the lines. The shape of the social network helps determine a network's usefulness to its individuals.
Smaller, tighter networks can be less useful to their members than networks with lots of loose connections (weak ties) to individuals outside the main network. More "open" networks, with many weak ties and social connections, are more likely to introduce new ideas and opportunities to their members than closed networks with many redundant ties. In other words, a group of friends who only do things with each other already share the same knowledge and opportunities. A group of individuals with connections to other social worlds is likely to have access to a wider range of information. It is better for individual success to have connections to a variety of networks rather than many connections within a single network. Similarly, individuals can exercise influence or act as brokers within their social networks by bridging two networks that are not directly linked (called filling social holes).
The power of social network theory stems from its difference from traditional sociological studies, which assume that it is the attributes of individual actors -- whether they are friendly or unfriendly, smart or dumb, etc. -- that matter. Social network theory produces an alternate view, where the attributes of individuals are less important than their relationships and ties with other actors within the network. This approach has turned out to be useful for explaining many real-world phenomena, but leaves less room for individual agency, the ability for individuals to influence their success, so much of it rests within the structure of their network.
Social networks have also been used to examine how companies interact with each other, characterizing the many informal connections that link executives together, as well as associations and connections between individual employees at different companies. These networks provide ways for companies to gather information, deter competition, and even collude in setting prices or policies.
Applications of social network theory
Applications in social science→ Social network theory in the social sciences began with the urbanization studies of the "Manchester School" (centered around Max Gluckman), done mainly in Zambia during the 1960s. It was followed up with the field of sociometry, an attempt to quantify social relationships. Scholars such as Mark Granovetter expanded the use of social networks, and they are now used to help explain many different real-life phenomena in the social sciences. Power within organizations, for example, has been found to come more from the degree to which an individual within a network is at the center of many relationships than actual job title. Social networks also play a key role in hiring, in business success for firms, and in job performance. Social network theory is an extremely active field within academia. The International Network for Social Network Analysis is an academic association of social network analysts. Many social network tools for scholarly work are available online (like "UCINet") and are relatively easy to use to present graphical images of networks.
Diffusion of innovations theory explores social networks and their role in influencing the spread of new ideas and practices. Change agents and opinion leaders often play major roles in spurring the adoption of innovations, although factors inherent to the innovations also play a role.
Popular applications→ The so-called rule of 150 states that the size of a genuine social network is limited to about 150 members (sometimes called the Dunbar Number). The rule arises from cross-cultural studies in sociology and especially anthropology of the maximum size of a village (in modern parlance most reasonably understood as an ecovillage). It is theorized in evolutionary psychology that the number may be some kind of limit of average human ability to recognize members and track emotional facts about all members of a group. However, it may be due to economics and the need to track "free riders", as larger groups tend to be easier for cheats and liars to prosper in.
Degrees of Separation and the Global Social Network→ The small world phenomenon is the hypothesis that the chain of social acquaintances required to connect one arbitrary person to another arbitrary person anywhere in the world is generally short. The concept gave rise to the famous phrase six degrees of separation after a 1967 small world experiment by psychologist Stanley Milgram which found that two random US citizens were connected by an average of six acquaintances. Current internet experiments continue to explore this phenomenon, including the Ohio State Electronic Small World Project and Columbia's Small World Project. As of 2005, these experiments confirm that about five to seven degrees of separation are sufficient for connecting any two people through the internet.
Internet social networks→ Whilst there was evidence of social networking on the Web in 1997, with websites such as SixDegrees.com, it was not until 2001 that websites using the Circle of Friends online social networks started appearing. This form of social networking, widly used in virtual communities, became particularly popular in 2003 and flourished with the advent of a website called Friendster. There are over 200 social networking sites, though Friendster is one of the most successful at using the Circle of Friends technique. The popularity of these sites rapidly grew, and major companies such as Google and Yahoo have entered the Internet social networking space.
In these communities, an initial set of founders sends out messages inviting members of their own personal networks to join the site. New members repeat the process, growing the total number of members and links in the network. Sites then offer features such as automatic address book updates, viewable profiles, the ability to form new links through "introduction services," and other forms of online social connections. Social networks can also be organized around business connections, as for example in the case of Shortcut.
Blended networking is an approach to social networking that blends offline and online elements together to create a blend. A human social network is blended if it supported by both face-toface events and an online community. The two elements of the blend support one another. A current trend is social networks that mirror real communities, becoming online extensions of these communities. MySpace builds on independent music and party scenes, and Facebook mirrors a college community. These sites allow stronger ties and freer relationships.
RYAN T. CRAGUN
-Introduction to Sociology (Wikibook)-