Advances in Group Processes: Volume 27


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Advances in Group Processes publishes theoretical analyses, reviews, and theory-based empirical chapters on group phenomena. The series adopts a broad conception of “group processes.” This includes work on groups ranging from the very small to the very large and on classic and contemporary topics such as status, power, trust, justice, influence, decision making, intergroup relations, and social networks. Previous contributors have included scholars from diverse fields including sociology, psychology, political science, business, philosophy, computer science, mathematics, and organizational behavior.

This chapter focuses on two theories in the landscape of research on social influence – status characteristics theory and social influence network theory – between which heretofore there has been little communication. We advance these two approaches by dovetailing them in a “modular integration” that retains the assumptions of each theory and extends their scope of application. Here, we concentrate on the extension of status characteristics theory to multiactor task-oriented groups and develop new insights on the effects of status characteristics in such groups. We address the implications for opinion changes of status differentiations in which some individuals are deemed more socially worthy and capable than others.

This chapter addresses the issue of how special collective ritual events operate and influence actors’ emotional states and commitment to a group. It is argued that in such events (e.g., rallies, holiday celebrations, and religious ceremonies) the greater the emotional intensity experienced by persons, the greater will be their commitment to and solidarity within the group. A model is proposed, which identifies several factors involved in such a process. The model builds on a body of theory and research, “structural ritualization theory (SRT),” which focuses on the role symbolic rituals play in social interaction and the generation and transformation of social structure. Four factors play a crucial role in the model: focus of attention, interactional pace, interdependence, and resources. Several of these factors also involve subcomponents that are identified and discussed. Attention is directed to how the formulation presented here is influenced by, and differs in certain ways from, classic and contemporary analysts including those working in the areas of social psychology and the sociology of emotions. Various examples are provided to illustrate the ability of the model to understand collective ritual events. Directions for further theory development and possible research investigating the arguments of the theory are also discussed.

Many papers have been written about group reflexivity. Testimonials by practitioners often contain strong claims about its performance benefits. Research papers, by scientists, seem to support such claims at first glance, but a closer look reveals methodological problems and weak results, even in the studies that show performance benefits, and there are several studies that show no performance benefits. We have begun our own program of research on group reflexivity, and so far, we have found no performance benefits either. All of this suggests that enthusiasm for group reflexivity should be tempered, until more and better research has been done.

Trust involves making oneself vulnerable to another person with the prospect of receiving some benefit in return. Contemporary theoretical accounts of trust among strangers emphasize its instrumental nature. People are assumed to trust to the extent that they can tolerate the risk and are sufficiently optimistic that their trust will be reciprocated. We describe evidence from laboratory economic games showing that this account empirically fails. Participants often trust even though their risk tolerance and social expectations suggest they should not. We propose, instead, that trust is largely an expressive act. People trust because of dynamics that surround the act itself rather than its potential outcomes. Evidence for the expressive nature of trust comes in two forms. First, studies of the emotions surrounding trust indicate that it is significantly predicted by how people feel about the act itself, not how they feel about its potential outcomes. Second, trust rates rise significantly if people are placed in a relationship with another person, no matter how anonymous, fleeting, or minimal that relationship is – presumably because being placed in a relationship evokes social norms that promote trust. We end our discussion by explaining a curious fact that participants grossly underestimate the trustworthiness of others. We also discuss possible motives for reciprocating trust and questions for future research.

Accumulating evidence suggests that individualism provides an atmosphere conducive to creative idea generation. However, research in both cross-cultural and social psychology suggests that individualism may reflect either independence or competition; a distinction that has been overlooked in research on group creativity. In this chapter, we highlight the distinction between these two constructs and develop a series of testable propositions that help distinguish their unique effects on the creative process. In doing so, we uncover several theoretical insights, including the possibility that independence and competition (a) are theoretically and empirically distinct, (b) have differential effects on idea generation, (c) have similar effects on idea selection but through different mechanisms, and (d) may interact to stimulate group creativity. We conclude by suggesting methodological approaches to disentangling these constructs in future research.

This study applies a new taxonomy of racial/ethnic misclassification that considers shifts in racial/ethnic status to investigate physical and emotional responses to racial treatment among different misclassification types. It finds that the odds of reporting physical and emotional symptoms increase 3.3 and 2.9 times, respectively, among individuals who experience racial/ethnic status loss (i.e., are misclassified into a racial/ethnic category with lower status compared to their self-reported category) compared to their correctly classified counterparts. In contrast, individuals who experience racial/ethnic status gain (i.e., are misclassified into a racial/ethnic category with higher status compared to their self-reported category) are no more likely to suffer from symptoms compared to correctly classified individuals. The results suggest that being misclassified per se does not necessarily harm well-being, but the loss of social status inherent in some types of misclassification does.

The comparison processes introduced by Thibaut and Kelly (1959) are fundamental to social exchange theories of power. However, research has focused almost exclusively on only one type of comparison – the comparison between alternative sources of valued rewards (CLalt) – which affects relationship commitment. Thibaut and Kelley also articulated a more general comparison level (CL) that determines relationship satisfaction. We propose that in exchange settings where relationships are not interdependent, the network structure can affect an actor's CL, with subsequent effects on power use. Results of a laboratory experiment offer initial support for this hypothesis and call for greater research on comparison processes within exchange networks.

The present study increases our understanding of strong power in exchange networks by examining its incidence in complex networks for the first time and relating this incidence to characteristics of these networks. A theoretical analysis based on network exchange theory (e.g., Willer, 1999) suggests two network characteristics predicting strong power; actors with only one potential exchange partner, and the absence of triangles, that is, one's potential exchange partners are not each other's partners. Different large-scale structures such as trees, small worlds, buyer–seller, uniform, and scale-free networks are shown to differ in these two characteristics and are therefore predicted to differ with respect to the incidence of strong power. The theoretical results and those obtained by simulating networks up to size 144 show that the incidence of strong power mainly depends on the density of the network. For high density no strong power is observed in all but buyer–seller networks, whereas for low density strong power is frequent but dependent on the large-scale structure and the two aforementioned network characteristics.

A multiplex relation occurs when actors share different roles, actions, or affiliations that overlap in a relationship, such as co-workers who are also friends outside of work. Although multiplex relations are as varied as they are pervasive and often problematic, we know surprisingly little about when, under what circumstances, and exactly how overlapping ties affect social relations. Do they strengthen or weaken relationships? When do relationships become multiplex? How do they affect networks at large? In this chapter, we review notable studies that exist on this topic and suggest key questions and issues for future research. Our goal in particular is to suggest how exchange theory could contribute to these efforts.

This chapter applies social exchange theory to corruption. If two parties exhibit corrupt behaviors, secrecy becomes a new joint good, making the two parties more dependent on each other (an increase in total power). Since no external enforcement mechanisms are available in illicit exchanges, the initial reciprocal exchange pattern shifts toward negotiated or productive forms of exchange. Such forms of exchange, however, tend to leave traces, either because the amount of traded resources increases or the contingencies between the behaviors become more visible to the outside. Using the larger network structure, in which corrupt exchanges are embedded, to deal with the problem of detection also is Janus-faced. Adding more ties to the exchange increases either the competition between several potential exchanges partners (exclusively connected network) or the risk of nonreciprocity and whistle blowing (positively connected network). By showing that illicit relations are inherently unstable, we specify some of the scope conditions of social exchange theory.

Publication date
Book series
Advances in Group Processes
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN