I in Team

Kevin Lewis

February 14, 2011

The value of task conflict to group decisions

Peter Boyle, Dennis Hanlon & Edward Russo
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

We tested the ability of task conflict to improve the quality of decisions made by four-person groups. In a choice between two entrepreneurial investments, conflict was created by endowing group members with a preference for either one investment or the other. Because the decision was subjective, decision quality was necessarily judged by a process criterion, the reduction in the biased evaluation of new information to support the leading alternative. Groups in which conflict was installed exhibited less bias than individuals, who themselves exhibited less bias than groups without such conflict. Regardless of whether conflict was installed, groups that reached an early consensus exhibited the greatest information bias, while groups that experienced sustained conflict exhibited the least. Before achieving consensus, information bias was not significantly different from zero, but then rose steadily after that agreement. This result identifies one specific mechanism by which conflict can improve the process of group decisions.


Democracy under uncertainty: The wisdom of crowds and the free-rider problem in group decision making

Tatsuya Kameda et al.
Psychological Review, January 2011, Pages 76-96

We introduce a game theory model of individual decisions to cooperate by contributing personal resources to group decisions versus by free riding on the contributions of other members. In contrast to most public-goods games that assume group returns are linear in individual contributions, the present model assumes decreasing marginal group production as a function of aggregate individual contributions. This diminishing marginal returns assumption is more realistic and generates starkly different predictions compared to the linear model. One important implication is that, under most conditions, there exist equilibria where some, but not all, members of a group contribute, even with completely self-interested motives. An agent-based simulation confirmed the individual and group advantages of the equilibria in which behavioral asymmetry emerges from a game structure that is a priori perfectly symmetric for all agents (all agents have the same payoff function and action space but take different actions in equilibria). A behavioral experiment demonstrated that cooperators and free riders coexist in a stable manner in groups performing with the nonlinear production function. A collateral result demonstrated that, compared to a dictatorial decision scheme guided by the best member in a group, the majority/plurality decision rules can pool information effectively and produce greater individual net welfare at equilibrium, even if free riding is not sanctioned. This is an original proof that cooperation in ad hoc decision-making groups can be understood in terms of self-interested motivations and that, despite the free-rider problem, majority/plurality decision rules can function robustly as simple, efficient social decision heuristics.


Members' Openness to Experience and Teams' Creative Performance

Marieke Schilpzand, David Herold & Christina Shalley
Small Group Research, February 2011, Pages 55-76

Team composition based on personality has been found to have important effects on team outcomes. However, little is still known about the effect of team personality composition on team creativity. To this end, this study examined the relationship of team members' openness to experience and team creativity. Results from a study with 31 graduate student teams suggest that openness to experience is significantly related to team creativity. Furthermore, teams that are diverse on openness to experience have the highest levels of team creativity, as long as they have some team members that are low on openness and others that have a moderate level of openness to experience.


Amygdala volume and social network size in humans

Kevin Bickart et al.
Nature Neuroscience, February 2011, Pages 163-164

We found that amygdala volume correlates with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans. An exploratory analysis of subcortical structures did not find strong evidence for similar relationships with any other structure, but there were associations between social network variables and cortical thickness in three cortical areas, two of them with amygdala connectivity. These findings indicate that the amygdala is important in social behavior.


Terrorism threat and networking: Evidence that terrorism salience decreases occupational networking

A. Kastenmüller et al.
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Previous research has shown that after terrorist attacks people focus more on their personal social networks. The present research tested to what extent this result can be extended to occupational networking. Considering previous research showing that in the face of terrorism people neglect their workplace, it was expected that terrorism threat would increase personal networking and decrease occupational networking. Study 1 showed that under high (compared with low) terrorism threat, participants reported having less positive attitudes towards occupational networks. Study 2 revealed that people who saw terrorism pictures (compared to neutral pictures) exhibited less positive attitudes towards occupational networks and more positive attitudes towards personal networks. Study 3 showed that high (vs. low) terrorism threat decreased intent to engage in occupational networking, which in turn was mediated by people's attitudes towards occupational networks. Implications for organizations are discussed.


What is moral about guilt? Acting "prosocially" at the disadvantage of others

Ilona de Hooge et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

For centuries economists and psychologists have argued that the morality of moral emotions lies in the fact that they stimulate prosocial behavior and benefit others in a person's social environment. Many studies have shown that guilt, arguably the most exemplary moral emotion, indeed motivates prosocial behavior in dyadic social dilemma situations. When multiple persons are involved, however, the moral and prosocial nature of this emotion can be questioned. The present article shows how guilt can have beneficial effects for the victim of one's actions but also disadvantageous effects for other people in the social environment. A series of experiments, with various emotion inductions and dependent measures, all reveal that guilt motivates prosocial behavior toward the victim at the expense of others around - but not at the expense of oneself. These findings illustrate that a thorough understanding of the functioning of emotions is necessary to understand their moral nature.


Social Volunteering in Welfare States: Where Crowding Out Should Occur

Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen
Political Studies, March 2011, Pages 135-155

This article evaluates the influence of welfare state policy on individual social volunteering. Unlike previous studies that have investigated the relationship between the welfare state and civic engagement, this contribution focuses on those areas of civil society that are most directly related to public welfare state activities. Moreover, it is assumed that welfare state policy does not uniformly affect the civic engagement of various social groups. The analyses provide support for the crowding out hypothesis: individual social volunteering is lower in extensive welfare states than it is in countries that spend less on welfare state policy. However, when group-specific welfare state effects are modelled, it is revealed that the crowding out effect of public social services does not hold for the low-income group. Additionally, extensive welfare policy reduces the negative effect of low affluence on social volunteering. Crowding out and crowding in thus go hand in hand: while state activities indeed serve as a substitute for social volunteering in some places, in others they are found to have a stimulating effect.


Responsibility is Divisible by Two, But Not by Three or Four: Judgments of Responsibility in Dyads and Groups

Karl Halvor Teigen & Wibecke Brun
Social Cognition, February 2011, Pages 15-42

When two individuals are doing a joint task, most people seem to think that the responsibility should be divided proportionally between them in a complementary fashion, so that an increase in one actor's responsibility leads to a corresponding decrease in the responsibility of the second actor. However, with three or four actors, the individual responsibilities of the first two are not reduced. As a consequence, the sum of responsibility assessments exceeds 100%, and a change in one actor's responsibility does not have to affect the perceived responsibility of the others, indicating a singular (case-based), rather than a distributional (class-based) view. The shift from additive to nonadditive responses is demonstrated in four vignette studies, using different response formats, and for actions involving causal as well as moral responsibility. The pattern of results is compatible with the singularity principle in judgment, according to which only one hypothesis, or one comparison, can be considered at a time.


Third Parties, Violence, and Conflict Resolution: The Role of Group Size and Collective Action in the Microregulation of Violence

Mark Levine, Paul Taylor & Rachel Best
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Although researchers know much about the causes of aggression, they know surprisingly little about how aggression leads to violence or how violence is controlled. To explore the microregulation of violence, we conducted a systematic behavioral analysis of footage from closed-circuit television surveillance of public spaces. Using 42 incidents involving 312 people, we compared aggressive incidents that ended in violence with those that did not. Behaviors of antagonists and third parties were coded as either escalating or conciliatory acts. Results showed that third parties were more likely to take conciliatory actions than to escalate violence and that this tendency increased as group size increased. This analysis revealed a pattern of third-party behaviors that prevent aggression from becoming violent and showed that conciliatory behaviors are more successful when carried out by multiple third parties than when carried out by one person. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of collective third-party dynamics in understanding conflict resolution.


Peer Evaluations and Team Performance: When Friends Do Worse than Strangers

Brice Corgnet
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

We use peer assessments as a tool to allocate joint profits in a real-effort team experiment. We find that using this incentive mechanism reduces team performance. More specifically, we show that teams composed of acquaintances rather than strangers actually underperform in a context of peer evaluations. We conjecture that peer evaluations undermine the inherently high level of intrinsic motivation that characterizes teams composed of friends and possibly exacerbate negative reciprocity among partners. Finally, we analyze the determinants of peer assessments and stress the crucial importance of equality concerns.


The Emergence of Individual Knowledge in a Group Setting: Mitigating Cognitive Fallacies

Daniel O'Leary
Group Decision and Negotiation, January 2011, Pages 3-18

Research in psychology has found that subjects regularly exhibit a conjunction fallacy in probability judgments. Additional research has led to the finding of other fallacies in probability judgment, including disjunction and conditional fallacies. Such analyses of judgments are critical because of the substantial amount of probability judgment done in accounting, business and organizational settings. However, most previous research has been conducted in the environment of a single decision maker. Since business and other organizational environments also employ groups, it is important to determine the impact of groups on such cognitive fallacies. This paper finds that groups substantially mitigate the impact of probability judgment fallacies among the sample of subjects investigated. The key finding of this paper is the analysis of the apparent manner in which groups make such decisions. A statistical analysis, based on a binomial distribution, suggests that groups investigated here did not use consensus. Instead, if any one member of the group has correct knowledge about the probability relationships, then the group uses that knowledge and does not exhibit fallacy in probability judgment. Having a computational model of the group decision making process provides a basis for developing computational models that can be used to simulate "mirror worlds" of reality or model decision making in real world settings.


Reducing the negative effects of stress in teams through cross-training: A job demands-resources model

Aleksander Ellis & Matthew Pearsall
Group Dynamics, forthcoming

The purpose of this study was to utilize the job demands-resources model to examine the direct and interactive effects of job demands and cross-training on cognitive, behavioral, and affective outcomes in teams. Results from 54 teams indicated that an increase in job demands reduced mental model accuracy and information allocation and increased tension among team members. Cross-training, on the other hand, increased mental model accuracy and decreased tension among team members. More importantly, the direct effects of cross-training were qualified by the interaction. When job demands were high, cross-trained teams evidenced higher mental model accuracy, more information allocation, and less tension than teams that were not cross-trained. Cross-training was less influential when job demands were low, indicating that cross-training acted as a resource to buffer the negative impact of job demands in teams.


Selective pressures for accurate altruism targeting: Evidence from digital evolution for difficult-to-test aspects of inclusive fitness theory

Jeff Clune et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 March 2011, Pages 666-674

Inclusive fitness theory predicts that natural selection will favour altruist genes that are more accurate in targeting altruism only to copies of themselves. In this paper, we provide evidence from digital evolution in support of this prediction by competing multiple altruist-targeting mechanisms that vary in their accuracy in determining whether a potential target for altruism carries a copy of the altruist gene. We compete altruism-targeting mechanisms based on (i) kinship (kin targeting), (ii) genetic similarity at a level greater than that expected of kin (similarity targeting), and (iii) perfect knowledge of the presence of an altruist gene (green beard targeting). Natural selection always favoured the most accurate targeting mechanism available. Our investigations also revealed that evolution did not increase the altruism level when all green beard altruists used the same phenotypic marker. The green beard altruism levels stably increased only when mutations that changed the altruism level also changed the marker (e.g. beard colour), such that beard colour reliably indicated the altruism level. For kin- and similarity-targeting mechanisms, we found that evolution was able to stably adjust altruism levels. Our results confirm that natural selection favours altruist genes that are increasingly accurate in targeting altruism to only their copies. Our work also emphasizes that the concept of targeting accuracy must include both the presence of an altruist gene and the level of altruism it produces.


I know what you did: The effects of interpersonal deviance on bystanders

Merideth Ferguson & Bruce Barry
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, January 2011, Pages 80-94

Using social information processing theory, we explore how interpersonally directed deviance affects work group members who observe or are aware of these insidious behaviors. In a field study, we find that indirect knowledge of work group member interpersonal deviance leads to subsequent interpersonal deviance of a focal individual. We also find that when work group cohesion is high, direct observation of deviance is more likely to result in subsequent bystander deviance. These findings add concretely to theory and research on the bystander effects of workplace deviance.


When Good Teammates Are Bad: Physiological Threat on Recently Formed Teams

Christena Cleveland et al.
Small Group Research, February 2011, Pages 3-31

This research examined the ways in which superior teammate performance in recently formed teams affects an individual's motivation. It was hypothesized that members of recently formed teams for whom social identity was not yet salient would experience threat, a maladaptive physiological pattern that indicates low perceptions of coping resources relative to situational demands. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that this effect would be the greatest for individuals on recently formed teams who had briefly interacted with teammates but still lacked a strong social identity, relative to those who have not interacted with teammates at all. Fifty-three participants were each paired with 2 confederates to form 53 triads. Depending on the condition, participants and confederates either competed as a team on a mental task (minimal team condition), completed a team-building exercise prior to competing as a team on a mental task (team condition), or competed as individuals against each other (individual/coaction baseline condition) on a mental task. The results revealed that participants who worked on a team with superior performers were threatened. Interestingly, participants who had the opportunity to bond with their teammates prior to working together were even more threatened by superior performers. Results are discussed in terms of psychological closeness and social comparison theory.


How does opportunistic behavior influence firm size? An evolutionary approach to organizational behavior

Christian Cordes et al.
Journal of Institutional Economics, March 2011, Pages 1-21

This paper relates firm size and opportunism by showing that, given certain behavioural dispositions of humans, the size of a profit-maximizing firm can be determined by cognitive aspects underlying firm-internal cultural transmission processes. We argue that what firms do better than markets - besides economizing on transaction costs - is to establish a cooperative regime among its employees that keeps in check opportunism. A model depicts the outstanding role of the entrepreneur or business leader in firm-internal socialization processes and the evolution of corporate cultures. We show that high opportunism-related costs are a reason for keeping firms' size small.


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