Advances in Group Processes: Volume 40

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Table of contents

(10 chapters)

We show political divisions in perceptions of police officers even before the divisive political and social events of 2016. We do so using respondents' interpretations of surprising and ambiguous headlines involving police officers (e.g., assumptions about what happened or who was involved).


We use affect control theory's ABO event structure and derivations of this structure to construct a set of headlines that describe ostensibly good people (A) doing bad things (B) to other good people (O) or are ambiguous on one or more of these components. We present 517 MTurk respondents with a set of seven headlines and collect quantitative and qualitative data on their reactions to, and interpretations of, these headline events.


Police headlines generate interest among readers. When interpreting events, respondents are less likely to modify or redefine police officers compared to other actors. However, assumptions related to ambiguous events involving police differ by political orientation. Liberals view police more negatively than conservatives, in part because they imagine them doing worse things to slightly better people. Qualitative analyses support and shed light on the mechanisms underlying this and other partisan effects.

Research Limitations

The research was designed to examine interest in headline structure, not specific actors. Thus, the patterns unique to police and political differences were not an original focus. We believe these inductive results are informative, but a study expressly designed to test hypotheses regarding perceptions of events with police officers is recommended for future work.

Practical and Social Implications

Understanding the political divide in perceptions of police and the potential of media coverage for exacerbating these effects is essential and related to ACTs growing interest in meaning divergence.


Various mass shooters have explained their violent actions as a response to failing at dominant forms of masculinity, including rejection from women and negative social comparisons to other men. The affect control theory of self (ACT-Self) posits that interactions that violate one's sense of self cause inauthenticity. This disequilibrium motivates behaviors that restore self-meanings, which may partially explain the link between challenges to the self and compensatory violence.


In Study 1, we use ACT-Self to examine the relationship between inauthenticity, violent fantasies, and physical aggression in the autobiography of one mass shooter. We quantify self-sentiments and inauthenticity using ACT-Self measures and methods, and perform a thematic analysis of the shooter's interpretations of and responses to disconfirming events. In Study 2, we examine the relationship between these same concepts in a survey of 18-to-32-year-old men (N = 847).


Study 1 shows that the shooter's inability to achieve popularity, wealth, sex, and relationships with beautiful women (compared to other men) produced inauthenticity that he resolved through violent fantasies, increasingly aggressive behavior, and ultimately, mass violence. Study 2 finds that inauthenticity arising from reflected appraisals from women predicts self-reported violent fantasies and physical aggression in a convenience sample of men in emerging adulthood.


This work leverages a formal social psychological theory to examine the link between self-processes and violence. Our findings suggest that men's inauthenticity, particularly produced by reflected appraisals from women, is positively associated with violent fantasies and acts. Further work is needed to assess whether this relationship is causal and for whom.


The theory of third order inference is a theory of how cultural beliefs influence individuals' decisions under conditions of interdependence and uncertainty. In this study, I build on prior work extending the theory to the role of third order information on social trust in public goods dilemmas. Namely, I argue that when second order information on the beliefs of those relevant to the group task are present, this information should influence decision-making over first and third order.


I test this argument in an experimental public goods game. After measuring first order social trust, participants are randomly sorted into one of four conditions – two that pair third and second order information on social trust as parallel and two that pair them as in conflict.


The results suggest that in the presence of second order information on social trust, third order information doesn't have an effect on cooperation.


The study extends the theory of third order inference to understanding the role of social trust at the first, second, and third levels in public goods dilemmas. It puts second order information in competition with third order in predicting cooperation. It suggests that resolving the uncertainty over the second order beliefs of a collective is key to preventing inefficient equilibriums when second and third order beliefs conflict.


The purpose of this theoretical chapter is to rework a promising but limited theory of the foundations of reciprocity. Reciprocity is often attributed to an “internalized norm of reciprocity” – a deeply felt moral obligation to help those who have helped us in the past. Leifer's theory of local action develops a radically different and compelling foundation for reciprocity – one in which the impetus for reciprocity is a thinly veiled battle for status. We rework the theory to offer a new one that addresses its limitations. The key idea is that the impetus for reciprocity is the desire to signal that one intends to create joint value rather than to capture it from the counterparty.


Our analytical approach rests on close examination of a puzzling and underrecognized feature of social exchange: people who initiate social exchange routinely deny giving anything of value (“it was nothing”) while the receiver inflates their indebtedness to the giver (“this is too much!”). We refer to this negotiation strategy as reverse bargaining and use it as a window into the logic of social exchange.


We develop a more general theory of how people manage the threat of opportunism in social exchange that subsumes local action theory. The key insight is that people who initiate social exchange and seek reciprocity must balance two competing objectives: to ensure that the person receiving a benefit recognizes a debt she must repay; and to mitigate the receiver's suspicion that the giver's ulterior motive is to capture value from the receiver.


Diffusion studies investigate the propagation of behavior, attitudes, or beliefs across a networked population. Some behavior is binary, e.g., whether or not to install solar panels, while other behavior is continuous, e.g., wastefulness with plastic. Similarly, attitudes and beliefs often allow nuance, but can become practically binary in polarized environments. We argue that this property of behavior and attitudes – whether they are binary or continuous – should critically affect whether a population becomes homogenous in its adoption of that behavior. Models show that only continuous behavior converges across a network. Specifically, binary behavior allows local convergence, as multiple states can be local majorities. Continuous behavior becomes uniform across the network through a logic of communicating vessels. We present a model comparing the diffusion of both types of behavior and report on a laboratory experiment that tests it. In the model, actors have to distribute an investment over two options, while a majority receives information that points to the optimal option and a minority receives misguided information that points toward the other option. We predict that when adjacent persons receive misguided information this can hinder convergence toward optimal investment behavior in small networked groups, especially when subjects cannot split their investment, i.e., binary choice. Results falsify our theoretical predictions: Although investment decisions are significantly negatively affected by local majorities only in the binary condition, this difference with the continuous condition is not itself significant. Binary and continuous behavior therefore achieve comparable incidences of optimal investment in the experiment. The failure of the theoretical predictions appears due to a substantial level of error in decision-making, which prevents local majorities from locking in on a suboptimal behavior.


We examine how authorities' use of fair decision-making procedures and power benevolently shape workers' impressions of them as competent and warm, which serve as a mechanism whereby authorities' behaviors shape workers' emotional responses. We investigate how the role of these impressions differs depending on authority gender and consider whether emotional responses differ for male and female subordinates.


We conducted a between-subjects experimental vignette study in which we manipulate an authority's behaviors and gender. We use multigroup mediation analysis to test our predictions.


Authorities who employ procedural justice and benevolent power elicit reports of heightened positive emotion experiences and intended displays and reports of reduced negative emotion experiences and intended displays. These behaviors also enhance views of authorities as competent and warm. The mediating role of impressions differs by authority gender. Authority behaviors prompt reports of positive emotions through conveying impressions that align with authorities' gender stereotypes (competence for men, warmth for women). In contrast, warmth impressions mediate effects of behaviors on reported negative emotions when authorities are men, whereas when authorities are women, benevolent power use directly reduces reported negative experience, and procedural justice reduces negative display. Female respondents are more likely to report positive emotion experience and display toward male authorities and negative display toward female authorities.


By examining competence and warmth impressions as mechanisms, we gain insight into how the process by which authority behaviors affect worker emotions is gendered and shed light on micro-level dynamics contributing to gender inequality at work.


The purpose of this chapter is to provide a comprehensive analysis of how sentiments may be a part of, or adjacent to, status generalization. We demonstrate why this problem is so difficult to solve definitively, as many resolutions may exist. Sentiments may present the properties of graded status characteristics but may also be disrupted by processes of the self. Sentiments may have status properties enacted within dyadic interactions. However, sentiments may also be status elements during triadic constellations of actors. Finally, we discuss current research that is underway to provide more empirical evidence to offer confirmation or disconfirmation for some of our proposed models.


We provide a synthesis of literatures, including pieces from group processes, neuroscience, psychology, and network scholarship, to address the relation between sentiment and status processes. Accordingly, this is a conceptual chapter.

Research Limitations/Implications

We attempt to motivate future research by exploring the many complications of examining these issues.

Social Implications

Understanding how social inequalities may emerge during group interaction allows researchers to address their deleterious effects. Positive sentiments (in other words, “liking”) should bring actors closer together to complete tasks successfully. Ironically, when paired with negative sentiments within task groups, inequalities in group opportunities may result. To address these social inequalities, a thorough understanding of how they develop is necessary, so that efficacious interventions can be adopted.


This deep dive into the relation between sentiment and status processes joins the 25-year quest to understand the issues surrounding this relationship.


This study examines whether there are unintended consequences that emerge from status interventions in task groups in relation to cohesion and solidarity. Past theorists have argued that inconsistent status structures produce weaker levels of cohesion and solidarity in comparison to consistent status structures.


Data come from an online experiment involving mixed-sex dyads interacting in one of three conditions. Participants individually completed an ambiguous problem-solving task and then worked together over Zoom audio to form a group decision. In the three conditions, participants were either given no performance feedback before the problem-solving task or were informed the male or the female participant performed better on a pretest related to the task. The conversations were recorded and analyzed using measures related to paraverbal synchronization and accommodation.


In terms of self-reported cohesion, there appeared to be a difference, albeit a weak one, in only the inconsistent-status condition, with female participants reporting higher levels of cohesion in comparison to males. However, in terms of solidarity, there was no significant difference between the conditions.


Although inconsistent status structures were associated with weaker perceptions of cohesion, it did not appear to impact solidarity like theorists have suggested. Status structures do not appear to impact group solidarity.


The nature of group membership in conjunction with status consistency/inconsistency may produce the significant differences in solidarity that theorists have suggested.

Originality/value of paper

To date, there has been little empirical examination of how status consistency affects cohesion and solidarity. Relatedly, the current study advances the research on vocal accommodation by analyzing status and solidarity simultaneously.

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Advances in Group Processes
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