new link as of June 1, 2015
broken links here
Activities and Exercises
on the Moon Task - Marianne Miserandino shares her version
of the Lost on the Moon task. The first link is to her handout
describing how she runs the activity in her class. Here
is the actual moon problem to be solved by a group. Here
are the answers to the moon problem. [added 2/19/14]
Cave Rescue Mission - group decision making task provided
by Valerie Pruegger [added 2/19/14]
Profile Task - Dana Wallace offers these PowerPoint slides
he uses for a group decision making task. Dana states "Ive
tried to get a hidden profile task to work in the classroom
before, but the students were so excited to talk to each other
that they disclosed all information! Now I use powerpoint of
Jack and Jill to show the same points of how different decisions
can be made based on information available." If you would
like more information on this task, you can reach Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This activity mirrors closely some of the original work when
we were referring to it as "risky shift." [added
Social Loafing - To introduce the topic of social loafing
I sometimes divide my class in half. I have one side of the
room individually make a list of as many uses they can think
of for an automobile tire. I tell them that anything is acceptable.
The other half of the room works as a group (or two groups if
too large) on the same task. Not surprisingly, the individual
side generates far more uses per person than does the group
side. Of course, there are a lot of reasons for that, which
we discuss. But one of the reasons is social loafing. [added
Social Loafing - At the end of our discussion of social
loafing, I divide the class into small groups to work on the
following problem: Use the conditions research has identified
that increase or decrease the likelihood of loafing in a group
to identify strategies for managing workers at a fast food restaurant.
Social Facilitation - To introduce the topic of social
facilitation I ask for two volunteers who are willing to do
a little math. (Not many takers for that one!) I have one volunteer
stay at his/her desk and have the other volunteer come to the
blackboard. I give them both the same multiplication problem
(e.g., 8,347 x 348) to solve as quickly as they can. The student
at the desk usually gets the wrong answer. The person at the
board almost always gets the wrong answer. It provides a good
example of all the different theories of social facilitation
such as evaluation apprehension and distraction conflict. [added
"O" train: Teaching the power of ostracism - Lisa Zadro
and Kipling Williams use this in-class activity to "show students
the powerful consequences of ostracism firsthand using an engaging,
validated teaching tool: the "O" train." This activity was awarded
an honorable mention in the Social Psychology Network's inaugural
Action Teaching Award program. [added 4/6/06]
more heads better than one? - Dave Myers passed along this
good in-class demonstration. He refers to James Surowiecki's
book, The Wisdom of Crowds, in which the author makes the point
that groups can make better decisions than the average individual
under certain conditions (e.g., "given freely contributed inputs
from varied perspectives" -- Myers). This point can be illustrated
in class using the "jelly bean challenge."
As Dave suggests, "The idea would be to
* have individual class members estimate the number of beans.
* average those estimates.
* ask for a show of hands from people who were closer to the
correct answer--2845 beans--than the class answer.
anticipated result would be few hands raised, thus illustrating
that, as the text will say, 'all of us together can become smarter
than almost any of us alone.'" Other related questions could
be explored by such variations as dividing half the class into
small groups to reach a group decision about the number of jelly
beans and leaving the other half to make individual judgments.
facilitation - an online, interactive exercise illustrating
the phenomenon [added 6/20/05]
- David Dodd's article "Robbers in the classroom: A deindividuation
exercise" [added 9/4/02]
dynamics activities -
many in-class and out-of-class activities from Don Forsyth's
text, Group Dynamics (3rd ed.) - be sure to read the copyright
info on this page [added
Resources (Audio / Video)
loafing - a podcast from Michael Britt [added 2/19/14]
studies - five different BBC radio programs looking at five different
group experiences [added
- An author on leadership, Jim Collins, provides some brief
videos on the topic. H/T Dana Wallace [added
- (1:05:24) The authors of the
article mentioned above discuss their research on the increased
polarization of American political attitudes along party lines.
the Web making you narrow-minded?" - (9:05)
The first link takes you to an excellent and scary TED talk
on how the Internet is being filtered for us so that we don't
see and hear what everyone else does. Here
- (25:02) is an interesting
episode of PsychFiles from Michael Britt on this topic of possible
group polarization of the Web. [added 6/25/12]
Dynamics course - Here is a unique approach to teaching a group
dynamics course with some experiential assignments. Here
is a link to an observation assignment in which students analyze the
group dynamics of a classroom. This
link takes you to an assignment in which a small group observes
the dynamics of another group anywhere they find one. [added
project: Investigate an organization
- In his Social Psychology of Organization course, Richard Hackman
requires his students to participate in a semester-long project which
involves "the collection of data about one or more actual groups
that operate in organizational settings." [added
presentations: Jonahue! -
While knocking around in Don Forsyth's site, I couldn't help remembering
the times I taught Group Dynamics many years ago (using Don's excellent
text). So, bear with me as I reminisce and share a rather odd class
assignment. I was looking for some way for my students to learn about
group dynamics while working in groups, and at the same time I wanted
to develop their oral speaking skills. But I didn't want them to give
the usual oral presentations in which they delivered a prepared speech.
They got enough of that (or at least some of that) in their other
courses. I wanted them to learn to speak extemporaneously and knowledgeably
about a topic. So, I asked myself, where do we find experts speaking
publicly extemporaneously? One venue I thought of was the talk show.
Sometimes experts are invited to come on a talk show, not to give
a speech, but to answer questions. At the time, one of the talk shows
doing this was hosted by Phil Donahue. My first name is Jon, and,
voila... "Jonahue" was born! Each week I turned my Group
Dynamics classroom into a talk show. I, Jonahue, was the host. A group
of three students was "invited" to be the guests on the
show because they were experts (if they prepared well) on a particular
group dynamics topic. More specifically, the group was there to use
its expertise on the topic to apply it to a specific topic-related
problem. The other members of the class were the audience and were
required to ask questions. As host, I also asked questions. And, I
recorded my wife asking questions I prepared for her that I played
during class as if she were a live caller to the show. Each group
of three students went through this ordeal three times during the
term. It was fun! And, more importantly, I think it worked. [added
Case Study/Group Dynamics - From Markus Kemmelmeier's sociology
course, this paper requires students to "identify a group and
examine its development and history using concepts of group dynamics."
polarization - This presentation discusses the presence of polarization
in online stock message boards. [added 2/19/14]
of consensus/grouthink - Author makes the point that the same
mistakes leading up to the Iraq war are being repeated. [added
happens if the mayor is your jury foreman? - interesting case
of former New York Mayor Guiliani serving as foreman of a jury
the World Trade Center site after the 9-11 attack - a brief summary
of the book by William Langewiesche which details many examples of
social influence in the aftermath [added 3/23/04]
- This link suggested by Steve Jones includes lots of good examples
of deindividuation. More examples here.
we discussed that being in a group leads to deindividuation. I recently
watched the movie "To Kill A Mockingbird." In it, there is a scene
where a mob has gathered at the jail. They want to lynch a black man
who they believe has raped a white woman. The men in the mob are acting
together in a ugly unison of threats and violence until the little
daughter of the man trying to stop the mob speaks up. She calls out
to one of the men in the mob by name, reminding him who she is, reminding
him of his visits to their house, reminding him that she plays with
his son, etc. The man finds these statements embarrassing. They increase
his self-awareness and strip away the mob mentality that he was a
part of. He can no longer hide behind the mob as the blame for the
violence. He now can see the responsibility on his shoulders not just
diffused on others. All of this causes him to announce in a loud voice
that he's leaving and thinks the other mob members should do the same,
which they do.
weeks ago I chaperoned a trip to Bloomington for the ISU high school
marching band competition. My son's last words as we got to the high
school were, "Dad, please don't embarrass me by yelling at everyone
on the bus." Much to his delight I was assigned to another bus. I'm
sure that each of these band members individually are fine young persons.
But nowhere has deindividuation been more obvious than on that bus.
Screaming, yelling, climbing over seats, and general mayhem seemed
to be the order of the day. Keeping in mind what my son had said,
I tried a little informational influence to get them to conform to
the rules. I tried to explain how they might get hurt climbing over
the seats, and how they needed to rest and conserve energy to be at
their best for the competition. That didn't work very good. I didn't
think normative influence would work because the group norm seemed
to be acting wild and crazy. I concluded that authority influence
was the only way. Several loud "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP's" did the trick.
to do a lot of singing. I sang in choirs, quartets, trios and did
solo performances as well. Mostly in church settings, but I also did
solo work when I sang in the work choir. Since I was the soprano with
the highest range, the other members depended on me to carry the high
notes. If I didn't hit them, nobody did. I found that after several
performances, my voice would begin to show the strain and it became
necessary for me to conserve it. Therefore, when we were singing in
an average range, I would only mouth the words. I could do this because
I knew that the others would continue to sing. However, as we approached
the bars that I was to sing, I found that the crescendo of all of
our voices together helped me to do a better job. That was not the
case when I sang in smaller groups. When I was the "only" soprano,
social loafing was not allowed. If I hadn't sung every note, the harmony
would have been badly distorted. Not wanting to experience their disapproval
or our mutual humiliation, I had a greater incentive to do my part.
Industrial Labor Relations class, we are currently doing a group project.
The class is divided into two sides, 8 people on the management side,
and 12 people on the union side (I'm on management). What we are trying
to do is to renegotiate the labor contract between a union and a slaughter
house (that is in financial trouble). This class has brought to light
many examples for me to write about. The first one that comes to mind
deals with social loafing. In both groups, it is present. But,
after a talk with a friend on the union team, I found out that it
is more prevalent on their team. This is probably due to their larger
number. What also encourages this is that we are graded as teams,
and the teacher never even looks up unless someone makes reference
to a chart. Unless the teacher remembers the voices of the people
who spoke, those who didn't will remain anonymous. A third factor
that encourages the social loafing is that on both sides, there are
people who really want to get good grades (me among them). The other
side has two people in particular that I know desperately want
an A so much that they seem to be doing the whole project. On our
side, pretty much everyone wants an A, and only 1 person could be
accused of social loafing (missed two important classes and does as
little as possible).
election affords the perfect opportunity for social loafing, and unfortunately,
many people take advantage of it. The group goal is to elect qualified
leaders of our choice. People tend to have less accountability and
less identifiability. Next year if our leaders are doing a poor job,
we can say, "I never voted for that jerk!" or "Yes, I voted for that
jerk, but so did a million other people!" This allows us to diffuse
our individual responsibility. Or I could tell myself that my one
little vote isn't going to make any difference in the election, so
why should I bother to vote at all?
been proven that under certain situations we are more likely to loaf.
Boy, it sure is easy to loaf when you're at work. One way I noticed
that my manager has tried to reduce loafing at work is by goal setting.
Since I work in retail - the more we sell, the more we make! Commission
is very important to all of us at work -- and it seems most of us
always try to sell as good as we can -- so our reward is very nice
at the end of the month. Not only does this goal setting make a profit
for the employees who show the effort -- but it is also profitable
for the company. I think accountability and identifiability is very
important. I want to be noticed at work when I sell a three thousand
dollar ring -- and when I stay after hours to help clean up -- and
I want the people who choose to "loaf" to be noticed too -- and believe
me -- they are!
and group formation - "Sayette and his colleagues assembled
various small groups using 720 male and female participants, a larger
sample than in previous alcohol studies. Researchers assessed individual
and group interactions using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS)
and the Grouptalk model for speech behavior. They concluded that
alcohol stimulates social bonding, increases the amount of time
people spend talking to one another, and reduces displays of negative
emotions. According to Sayette, the paper introduces into the alcohol
literature new measures of facial _expression_ and speech behavior
that offer a sensitive and comprehensive assessment of social bonding."
with the social flow - "The key finding is that the participants
in the high interdependent condition were rated as more joyful than
participants in the low interdependence condition, based on self-report
and on scores given by trained observers who watched their facial
expressions and body language." [added
much do our social networks shape our behavior? - More contagion
research -- Interesting New York Times article reviewing
research on the contagious nature of behavior within social networks
War Syndrome: Rumor or fact? - an interesting couple of articles
-- one suggesting that Gulf War Syndrome might be exaggerated by
rumor, the other suggesting
it is real [added
Watercooler Effect - Nick DiFonzo is the author of the book,
The watercooler effect: A psychologist explores the extraordinary
power of rumors. At this site he does provide some excerpts
of the text as well as links to some other good resources on rumors
at his site. [added 4/25/09]
Moscovici site - Sylvain Delouvée helped create a new
website about Serge Moscovici. Most of it is in French, but there
are a few documents and videos in English. The site will grow gradually,
adding more content. Sylvain says that comments are welcome. [added
Behavior" - a lot of good articles in the APS Observer
including this cover article [added
Forsyth's group dynamic pages - A few years back I pointed you
to Don Forsyth's excellent resources available online. I am pointing
you to them again because 1) they are still excellent! and 2) they
have moved with Don to his new address at the University of Richmond.
America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-being by Race and
- "This chart book documents current differences in well-being
by race and Hispanic origin and describes how such differences have
evolved over the past several decades. The book is designed to further
one of the goals of the President's Initiative on Race: To educate
Americans about the facts surrounding the issue of race in America."
Seven Sins of Deadly Meetings"
- article by Eric Matson [added 3/6/02]
Groups: SYMLOG Questionnaires -
developed by David Heise and adapted from Robert Bales' SYMLOG Case
Study Kit, these online
questionnaires can be used to "measure the behavior of group
members whom you have observed, and also your perceptions of the
way you behave in various settings, and your subjective attitudes
about your own behavior" - data can be entered online and a
graph of results can be produced online as well. [added
Cuban Missile Crisis - Declassified documents, audio clips,
chronology, analysis and more from an exhibit "The Cuban Missile
Crisis, 1962: The 40th Anniversary" from the National Security
Archive at George Washington University [added 12/1/04]
- description and resources related to true story of airplane survivors
- good for the study of many group processes [added
Massacre Resources [added 6/3/09]
- detailed account in chapters from Court TV's Crime Library [added
resources on the massacre - This site from NPR provides audio
of stories about the event, an interview with a survivor, images
of the massacre, review of the events and more. [added
on the massacre from the Department of Religious Studies at San
Diego State University - The Department has created a website entitled,
“Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple,"
which provides a 25th anniversary review, personal reflections,
tape transcripts and more. [added 3/19/04]
crowds - A good blog entry identified by Steve Jones that offers
alternative explanations to crowd behavior beyond deindividuation.
Links to a report on "Crowd psychology and public order policing."
as unruly mobs a myth? - good article describing how this perception
is often at odds with the research [added 1/19/10]
crowding in "synthetic" laboratory - "Torrens
and his research team, with funding from the National Science Foundation
(NSF), are developing a synthetic laboratory populated with thousands
of artificial agents to experiment with ideas and theories about
crowd behavior and dynamics that would otherwise be impenetrable
to academic inquiry. Of special interest are the geographic processes
that occur for a crowd to become charged and then cross over the
tipping point into a full-blown riot." [7/13/09]
clout" - Interesting look at a relatively new phenomenon
in which the Internet permits large groups of people to come together
for a cause or a purpose -- the primary focus of this selection
is on "buying together." CROWD CLOUT: “Online grouping
of citizens/consumers for a specific cause, be it political, civic
or commercial, aimed at everything from bringing down politicians
to forcing suppliers to fork over discounts.” [added
on the Internet - a good article noted by Steve Jones [added
polarization - a blog entry on the topic -- h/t Steve Jones
polarization in today's climate - "The polarization of extremes"
is an interesting essay arguing that polarization is even greater
now because it is even easier to seek out similar views and ignore
disconfirming views. [added 3/23/08]
and teenagers' reasons for excluding others" - "Eighty-four
children were interviewed: 28 7-year-olds, 28 11-year-olds and 28
17-year-olds. A clear difference emerged with age. The younger children
rarely described themselves as having any choice when they'd excluded
others. They mostly mentioned practical reasons - 'We were playing
piggy-back wars ... another kid wanted to play ... we didn't have
any more people for him,' or peer pressure - 'We were playing jump
roping and somebody else wanted to play with us, but then my friend
said no.' Their pleas of innocence contradict behavioural observations
showing that young children often leave other kids out deliberately.
The 17-year-olds, by contrast, were more up front, most often giving
the reason that they disliked the excluded person - 'We didn't invite
this one girl because she's not open-minded ... ,' was a typical
reduces pain of social rejection - Yep, soon there will be a
pill for everything. Apparently, "social rejection and physical
pain really do share some of the same brain circuits." The
first link is to the journal article; the second link is to a blog
entry about it. [added
social exclusion literally feel cold?" - "In another
experiment, instead of relying on volunteers' memories, the researchers
triggered feelings of exclusion by having the volunteers play a
computer-simulated ball tossing game. The game was designed so that
some of the volunteers had the ball tossed to them many times, but
others were left out. Afterwards, all the volunteers rated the desirability
of certain foods and beverages: hot coffee, crackers, an ice-cold
Coke, an apple, and hot soup. The findings were striking. As reported
in the September issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the
Association for Psychological Science, the "unpopular"
volunteers who had been ostracized during the computer game were
much more likely than the others to want either hot soup or hot
coffee. Their preference for warm food and drinks presumably resulted
from physically feeling cold as a result of being excluded."
- Kipling Williams offers downloads of Cyberball, "a virtual
ball-toss game that can be used for research on ostracism, social
exclusion, or rejection." Could also possibly be used for lab
activities. [added 1/8/06]
Controversies - resources from the Washington Post describing
various controversial cults since the 1950s [added
(Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network) "focuses on protecting
freedom of mind from harms caused by all forms of mind control and
unethical influence" - lots of information and resources on
cults, scientology and attempts at mind control [added
- variety of resources - from About.com guide on alternative religions
social psychological critique of "brainwashing" claims
about recruitment to new religions"
- article by James T. Richardson - from J. Hadden and D. Bromley,
eds. (1993), The Handbook of Cults and Sects in America. Greenwich,
CT: JAI Press, Inc., pp. 75-97. [added 3/6/02]
Cultic Studies Association --
"Founded in 1979, the International Cultic Studies Association
(ICSA) is a global network of people concerned about psychological
manipulation and abuse in cultic groups, alternative movements,
and other environments. ICSA is tax-exempt, supports civil liberties,
and is not affiliated with any religious or commercial organizations.
Meditation - a critical look from trancenet.org
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2000-2015. This site was created and is maintained by Jon
Mueller, Professor of Psychology at North
Central College, Naperville, IL. Send comments to Jon.