How cohesion motivation in task groups affects status and influence
Clark, Jesse Kenneth
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For this dissertation I developed and tested an elaboration of a social psychological theory that identifies mechanisms within small task groups that make some groups more inequitable than others. According to status characteristics theory individuals tend to rely on small pieces of information to make judgments about group members’ competencies and skills. Groups routinely rely on readily available cues (e.g., gender, race, or age) to define the value of each members’ contributions to the group. Although group members can counteract these judgments with contradicting information, that information is often unavailable or never introduced. The theory proposed in this dissertation asserts that how small task groups are formed can create situations where people will look past their prejudices and allow seemingly less valuable group members to have more influence. The consequence is that people with the power to influence the structure of small groups have the power to influence levels of inequality within the groups themselves. This new theory argues that future interaction and individual motivations mediate the effects of inequalities in small task groups. Specifically, the theory proposes that groups in which members are oriented to work together for long-term success will be more motivated to treat group members more equitably than groups in which members are unconcerned about the long-term success of the group. Furthermore, an expanded mathematical model provides new insights into estimating the effects of influence in small groups.