Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Threats to Group Effectiveness

A section titled, “Threats to Group Effectiveness,” on page 295 is very informative and relevant. It caught my attention because group effectiveness is vital to success and I wanted to understand what factors could threaten it. This information is relevant to nearly every situation which has a group at its core.

The three threats to group effectiveness mentioned in this section are the Asch effect, groupthink, and social loafing. Out of these, I found the Asch effect to be most interesting. The Asch effect deals with perspective and is named after a psychologist who studied group dynamics. He conducted an experiment which people would have to match the length of one line with one of three others on a separate card. Because there was only one correct choice, the results should have been unanimous, but they weren’t. This is because Dr. Asch arranged to have one of the participants offer up incorrect information, and under pressure, other people followed.

I have witnessed this effect occur several times when working in a group, yet didn’t understand the context until now. What may appear to be consensus might actually be the Asch effect in disguise.

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