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Learning From Mistakes: How to Stage a Discussion Group Study

aOhio University, USA
bAshland University, USA

Advances in Group Processes

ISBN: 978-1-80455-154-7, eISBN: 978-1-80455-153-0

Publication date: 27 October 2022



The authors review experimental procedures employed in studies of status and organization processes in task groups. Early studies employed face-to-face interaction in groups in both naturalistic and laboratory settings. The creation of an abstract interaction experiment that varied initial conditions in place for actors increased validity in theory tests. Recent studies have employed face-to-face groups to increase the range of situations to improve both internal and external validity. The authors include a brief history of how experiments have increased the range of explanatory application. The authors illustrate questions related to external validity with examples from research the authors and others have conducted.


Properties of experimental design are described. The authors employ aspects of the standard experiment in the expectation states research program to highlight designs used in studying task groups. The authors discuss features of face-to-face discussion studies designed to test aspects of expectation states theories. Errors in execution of data collection and principles of good design are explicated.

Research Implications

The authors identify procedures that may affect the quality of data in open interaction situations. Means to reduce errors and improve data quality are identified. The authors list issues that may affect data quality and suggest several ways to improve design and reporting of face-to-face studies.

Value of the Paper

The authors' effort to create a design road map for face-to-face studies will improve the quality of data collection and analysis. This will broaden the scope of research situations and improve the range of external validity of studies of status and organization of task groups.




The authors wish to express their substantial gratitude to Alison Bianchi for her thoughtful reading and comments on early drafts of this chapter. Her suggestions for organization and style issues were outstanding. The authors also wish to thank a reviewer whose comments they are very grateful for. They led us to reorder our presentation and improve our presentation of ideas.


Shelly, R.K. and Shelly, A.C. (2022), "Learning From Mistakes: How to Stage a Discussion Group Study", Kalkhoff, W., Thye, S.R. and Lawler, E.J. (Ed.) Advances in Group Processes (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 137-154.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Robert K. Shelly and Ann Converse Shelly. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited