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Journal Article

Effects of Attribution of Responsibility for Negative Events on Behavior in Small Groups

Marvin E. Shaw and George R. Breed
Sociometry
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1970), pp. 382-393
DOI: 10.2307/2786314
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786314
Page Count: 12
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Effects of Attribution of Responsibility for Negative Events on Behavior in Small Groups
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Abstract

This study examined the effects of attribution of responsibility (AR), sanctioning, and number of accuser on the reactions of others to the accused and on the effectiveness of groups in which the accused holds membership. In the first part of the study (phase 1), two teams competed with each other in a game situation. One team was composed of either two or three naive subjects (depending upon the group size), whereas the other team was composed of one naive subject and either one or two confederates. During the course of the game the confederate(s) accused the naive member of their team of being responsible for team losses and, under some conditions, sanctioned him for the losses. In phase 2, the accused and members of the other team (the nonaccused) worked together as members of a problem solving group. The results of phase 1 demonstrated clearly that AR to a person for negative events induces that person to view his accusers less favorably that if AR had not occurred. Relative to the nonaccused, the accused was less satisfied with the performance of his team and saw them as having less ability and as being less cooperative. The nonaccused saw the accused and his team in a similar way. These Effects occurred regardless of number of accusers and whether or not the accused was sanctioned, although the effects were greater when the accused was also sanctioned. Furthermore, the nonaccused preferred to work with someone else more than with the accused. The events of phase 1 had no effect on problem-solving effectiveness in phase 2.

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