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exhibited by men and women. These differences may be important for effective group
functioning because the behavior of the leader is critical for group performance (Eagly,
Johansen-Schmidt, & van Engen, 2003; Eagly & Karau, 2002). Eaglyʼs analysis is based
on social roles theory, which suggests that leaders occupy roles determined both by
their position in whatever group they are part of, and by the limits imposed by gender-
based expectations (Eagly & Karau, 2002). For example, if the leader is a manager of
Chapter 8 Group Processes 301

a warehouse, that role is in part determined by the tasks that must be done to keep that
warehouse functioning”scheduling workloads, monitoring inventory, dealing with
unions. But each manager also has some leeway as to carrying out those functions.
Eagly points out that there is often an incompatibility between leadership roles and the
gendered expectations of women.
Eagly and her colleagues analyzed almost 50 studies that compared the leadership
styles of males and females (Eagly et al., 2003). They found that as social roles theory
predicted, leadership styles were determined by both gender and demands placed on the
leaders. They found signi¬cant gender differences with respect to the type of leadership
styles men and women exhibited. Women leaders were more transformative than were
transformative leader
male leaders. Transformative leaders tend to focus on communicating the reasons
A group leader who places
behind the groupʼs mission and to show optimism and excitement about reaching the
emphasis on communicating
groupʼs goals. Transformative leaders also tend to mentor their group members and to
group goals and expressing
freely promote new ideas and ways of getting things done. optimism about the group™s
In contrast, male leaders are more transactional. That is, they deal in rewarding ability to reach those goals.
positive results but also focus on the mistakes and errors that members have made.
Compared to transformative leaders, who may intervene before serious problems occur,
transactional leader
transactional leaders may wait until problems become severe before intervening. In
A group leader who rewards
other words, males are more hands-off leaders, more disengaged, while females seem
positive outcomes but also focus
to be more active.
on mistakes made by group
What do we make of these differences? Do they matter in the functioning of, say, members.
a corporation, or a university? Eagly et al. (2003) point out that the difference between
men and women leaders is relatively small. That is, gender accounts for a relatively
small part of the variation of leadership styles. That being said, however, the qualities
that distinguish women leaders from their male counterparts appear to be directly related
to greater group effectiveness. For example, research has demonstrated the dif¬culty of
motivating workers to adopt new safety regulations. Research has shown that hands-
on positive leadership, which de¬nes the transformational leader, can be very effective
(Kelloway, Mullen, & Francis, 2006).

Why Group Members Obey Leaders: The Psychology of Legitimacy
Tyler (1997) provided insight into when and why groups voluntarily follow their leaders.
In order for groups to function, the members have to decide that the leader ought to
be obeyed. Although leaders often have access to coercive methods to get members to
follow their orders, voluntary compliance is necessary oftentimes for a group to suc-
cessfully achieve its goals.
Tyler was interested in the judgment by group members that they should voluntarily
comply with the rules laid down by authorities, regardless of the probability of punish-
ment or reward. Tyler (1997) suggested that the feeling of obligation to obey the leader
legitimacy A group member™s
is best termed legitimacy. Following earlier work by French and Raven (1959), a leader
feeling of obligation to obey the
has legitimate power to in¬‚uence, and the member has the obligation to obey when all
group™s leader.
have accepted (internalized) the central values of the group. Tylerʼs work suggests that
the basis of a leaderʼs legitimacy resides in its psychological foundations. That is, it is
not enough for the leader to be successful in getting the groupʼs work done, although
clearly that is quite important.
Among the factors that are crucial for legitimacy is, ¬rst, how people are treated by
authorities, regardless of how the leaders have evaluated them, and second, whether the
members share group membership with the authorities. Finally, Tylerʼs work indicated
that people value the leaderʼs integrity more than they do the leaderʼs competence. This
description of legitimacy is called the relational model.
Social Psychology
302

The relational model emphasizes that individuals are most likely to internalize
group values when they are treated with procedural fairness (van den Bos, Wilke, &
Lind, 1998). In fact, people make judgments about authorities when little information
is available about them, based on whether the authorities give them digni¬ed, fair treat-
ment (van den Bos et al., 1998). Neidermeier, Horowitz, and Kerr (1999) reported that
some groups (juries) may deliberately and willfully disobey the commands of authori-
ties (judges) when they determine that following the authorityʼs instructions would
result in an unfair and unjust verdict. People will be more likely to accept a leader when
that leader exhibits interpersonal respect, neutrality in judgment, and trustworthiness
(Tyler, 1997).
Again, we should not overlook the importance of instrumental factors in leader-
ship. Getting the groupʼs work done is crucial. It is likely that under some circum-
stances, relational issues may not be important at all (Fiedler, 1967). If someone has
the ability to lead a group out of a burning building, relational issues matter not.
But Tylerʼs earlier work indicated that in judging authorities with whom we have no
contact (the U.S. Congress, the Supreme Court), concerns about fairness come into
play (Tyler, 1994).



Factors That Affect the Decision-Making Ability
of a Group
What makes a good decision-making group? Is there a particular size that works best?
What about the abilities of the group members? What other factors have an impact
on the abilities and effectiveness of a group? Consider President Kennedyʼs advisory
group that decided to invade Cuba. It was fairly large, perhaps 12 or more people
attended each session, and group members were similar in temperament, background,
and education. Is that a good recipe for a decision-making group?

Group Composition
Several group investigators emphasize the composition of a group as its most funda-
mental attribute (Levine & Moreland, 1990). Questions often arise about how to best
constitute groups, especially decision-making groups. For example, some people have
asked whether random selection of citizens is the best way to put together a jury, espe-
cially for a complex trial (Horowitz, ForsterLee, & Brolly, 1996).
Some researchers have investigated whether groups with high-ability members
perform better than groups composed of individuals of lesser abilities. In one study,
the composition of three-person battle tank crews was varied (Tziner & Eden, 1985).
Some crews had all high-ability members, some had mixtures of high- and low-ability
members, and others had all low-ability members. Their results showed that tank groups
composed of all high-ability individuals performed more effectively than expected from
the sum of their individual talents. Groups composed of all low-ability members did
worse than expected.
Psychologist Robert Steinberg believes that every group has its own intelligence
level, or “group IQ” (Williams & Steinberg, 1988). The groupʼs IQ is not simply the
sum of each memberʼs IQ. Rather, it is the blending of their intellectual abilities with
their personalities and social competence. In one study, Steinberg asked volunteers who
had been tested on their intelligence and social skills to devise a marketing plan for a
Chapter 8 Group Processes 303

new product, an arti¬cial sweetener (Williams & Steinberg, 1988). Other groups had
similar tasks, all of which required creative solutions. The decision-making groups that
produced the most creative solutions were those that contained at least one person with
a high IQ and others who were socially skillful, practical, or creative. In other words,
the successful groups had a good mix of people with different talents who brought dif-
ferent points of view to the problem.
This research highlights the fact that everybody in the group must have the skills to
make a contribution. If one member of the group is extremely persuasive or extremely
good at the task, the other members may not be able to use their abilities to the best
effect. According to one study, successful leaders should have IQ scores no more than
10 points higher than the average IQ score of the group (Simonton, 1985). This mini-
mizes the possibility that the most talented person will dominate the group. If this
person is more extraordinary, then the collective effort will be hurt by his or her pres-
ence (Simonton, 1985).
The gender of group members also in¬‚uences problem-solving ability (Levine &
Moreland, 1990). Research shows that although groups composed of all males are gen-
erally more effective than all-female groups, the success of the groups really depends on
the kind of problem they have to solve. Male groups do better when they have to ful¬ll
a speci¬c task, whereas female groups do better at communal activities that involve
friendship and social support (Wood, 1987).

Racial Effects on Group Decision Making
One might expect that the racial composition of a group might affect the type and
perhaps the quality of decision making of groups. But how and why? As one example,
a goal of the judicial system is to ensure that juries be formed from fair cross-sections
of the population. This doesnʼt mean that each jury must represent a fair cross-section
but that the group from which the jury is selected is a good representation of the com-
munity. Therefore, from a public policy and a constitutional point of view, diverse juries
are perceived as a societal “good.” But what impact does diversity have on both the
process and outcomes of group decision making?
Sommers (2006) studied the effects of the racial composition of one unique group,
the jury in criminal trials, on verdicts. Using a “mock jury” paradigm in which partici-
pants are asked to play the role of jurors, Sommers constructed juries that were either
composed of all whites or all blacks, or were racially mixed. Mock jurors were brought
to a county courthouse and essentially went through the same procedures any prospective
juror would. After being formed into juries, they watched a videotaped trial of a sexual
assault case involving an African American defendant and a white victim. Several ques-
tions were asked of the jurors before seeing the trial that were designed to make them
think about their racial attitudes and to make them salient, uppermost in their minds.
The results suggested that the differences between racially diverse groups and
racially homogeneous groups were re¬‚ected in jury decision making. For example,
whites in diverse groups were more likely to be lenient toward a black defendant than
were whites in all-white groups. Whites in diverse juries processed more information
and brought out more facts that whites in homogeneous white groups. Diverse juries
took more time to deliberate, and diverse groups discussed more racial issues.
What of verdicts? Diverse groups showed some tendency to hang, and that goes hand
in hand with the longer deliberation times. However, only 1 of the 30 six-person juries
in the research convicted the defendant. The racial effects in this research are primarily
expressed in the quality of the jury process rather than in verdicts, generally.
Social Psychology
304


Group Size
Conventional wisdom tells us that two heads are better than one. If this is so, then why
wouldnʼt three be better than two, four better than three, and so on? Does increasing a
groupʼs size also increase its ability to arrive at correct answers, make good decisions,
and reach productivity goals?
Increasing the number of members of a group does increase the resources avail-
able to the group and therefore the groupʼs potential productivity. On the other hand,
increasing group size also leads to more process loss (Steiner, 1972). In other words, the
increase in resources due to more group members is counterbalanced by the increased
dif¬culty in arriving at a decision. Large groups generally take more time to reach a
decision than small groups (Davis, 1969).
Yet, smaller is not always better. We often misperceive the effect of group size on
performance. Researchers interested in testing the common belief that small groups
are more effective than large groups gave a number of groups the task of solving social
dilemmas, problems that require individuals to sacri¬ce some of their own gains so that
the entire group bene¬ts, such as conserving water during a drought (Kerr, 1989).
Those who participated in the study thought that the size of their group was an
important determinant of their ability to satisfactorily resolve social dilemmas. People
in larger groups felt there was very little they could do to in¬‚uence the decisions of the
group. They tended to be less active and less aware of what was going on than compa-
rable members of smaller groups. They believed that smaller groups would more effec-
tively solve social dilemmas than larger groups, mainly by cooperating.
In fact, there was no difference in effectiveness between the small and large groups
in solving social dilemmas. People enjoyed small groups more than large ones, but the
product and the quality of the decisions of both sizes of groups were much the same.
illusion of ef¬cacy Thus, small groups offer only an illusion of ef¬cacy. That is, they think they are more
The illusion that members of effective than larger groups, but the evidence suggests they may not be, based on their
small groups think they are actual productivity (Kerr, 1989).
more effective than larger
groups, which may not be The Group Size Effect
the case.
Price, Smith, and Lench (2006) found a group size effect in the area of risk judgment.
When people are asked to make judgments about themselves or another individual,
or groups of individuals, with respect to potential negative life events (heart attacks,
unwanted pregnancies, etc.), they tend to rate themselves, friends, and family at the
lowest risks but rate others at higher risk. So female college students rate themselves
and their friends at lowest risk for unwanted pregnancies, but rate the “average college
woman” at higher risk and the “average woman” at much higher risk.
There are a number of possible explanations for the group size effect in the judg-
ment of risk, but one is that we have favorable opinions of people we know and less
favorable ones of people we donʼt know. We are also more optimistic about ourselves
and our closest friends and family. We tend to believe that our best friend will take
precautions to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but the “average woman” may not be
so careful or so smart. Another application of this group size effect can be seen in the
research on stereotypes presented in Chapter 4. We have stereotypes about various
social groups, but a friend of ours who is a member of one of these groups will not be
likely to be perceived as having the negative qualities that the “average” and unknown
member of that group is presumed to possess (Price et al., 2006).

Group Cohesiveness
Does a cohesive group outperform a noncohesive group? When we consider decision-
making or problem-solving groups, two types of cohesiveness become important:
Chapter 8 Group Processes 305

task-based cohesiveness and interpersonal cohesiveness (Zachary & Lowe, 1988).
Groups may be cohesive because the members respect one anotherʼs abilities to help
obtain the groupʼs goals; this is task-based cohesiveness. Other groups are cohesive
because the members ¬nd each other to be likable; this is interpersonal cohesiveness.
Each type of cohesiveness in¬‚uences group performance in a somewhat differ-
ent way, depending on the type of task facing the group. When a task does not require
much interaction among members, task-based cohesiveness increases group productiv-
ity, but interpersonal cohesiveness does not (Zaccaro & McCoy, 1988). For example,
if a group is working on writing a paper, and each member is responsible for different
parts of that paper, then productivity is increased to the extent that the members are
committed to doing a good job for the group. The group members do not have to like
one another to do the job well.
Now, it is true that when members of the group like one another, their cohesive-
ness increases the amount of commitment to a task and increases group interaction as
well (Zachary & Lowe, 1988). However, the time they spend interacting may take away
from their individual time on the task, thus offsetting the productivity that results from
task-based cohesiveness.
Some tasks require interaction, such as the Challenger decision-making group. On
these tasks, groups that have high levels of both task-based and interactive cohesive-
ness perform better than groups that are high on one type but low on the other or that
are low on both (Zaccaro & McCoy, 1988).
Cohesiveness can also detract from the successful completion of a task when group
members become too concerned with protecting one anotherʼs feelings and do not allot
enough attention to the actual task. Groups that are highly cohesive have members who
are very concerned with one another. This may lead group members to sti¬‚e criticism
of group decisions.
Members of strongly cohesive groups are less likely to disagree with one another
than are members of less cohesive groups, especially if they are under time pressure to
come up with a solution. Ultimately, then, very high cohesiveness may prevent a group
from reaching a high-quality decision. Cohesiveness is a double-edged sword: It can
help or hurt a group, depending on the demands of the task.


The Dynamics of Group Decision Making: Decision
Rules, Group Polarization, and Groupthink
Now that we have considered various aspects of group decision making, letʼs consider how
the decision-making process works. Although we empower groups to make many impor-
tant decisions for us, they do not always make good decisions (Janis, 1972). However, the
reason we use groups to make important decisions is the assumption that groups are better
at it, more accurate than are individual decision makers (Hastie & Kameda, 2005).

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