People join groups for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they have no choice as to whether to join a group. For example, students may have to take a certain class. They join functional groups simply by virtue of joining organizations, and accepting a specific job assignment that involves working with a designated group of other people.
Share on Pinterest By David Sloan Wilson Some experiments are like a good play, compressing profound truths into compact form. Case and Jon K. Maner at Northwestern University1. The article describes a series of experiments that reveal the perverse tendency of leaders to undermine the goals of their group to maintain their position of power.
The participants were college students earning research credits in their introductory psychology class. The students were led to believe that they were leaders of a group of three other students doing a verbal problem-solving task.
The better the performance of the group, then the better the chance of winning a cash prize in a raffle drawing. As leader, the student could control how other members of the group interacted with each other and how the reward was distributed, to varying degrees depending upon the different versions of the experiment.
The students were also led to believe that one member of the group was especially talented at the task.
Get Evonomics in your inbox Like a play, Main reasons for why different groups of this was made up. There were no groups—just a tissue of lies innocent enough to be approved by a human subject review board told to the students by the researchers.
One thing was not fictional, however: Each student completed a survey called the Achievement Motivation Scale AMSwhich measured the degree to which they enjoyed having power over other people dominance motivation as opposed to wanting to be respected by other people prestige motivation.
The field of social psychology has been criticized for some of these methods, including over-reliance on college students as representatives of humanity and the use of deception.
The field of behavioral economics, which is really just social psychology by another name, forbids deception as a research method.
Another concern is whether the elaborate ruse is likely to work. After all, the incentives for the students to get sucked into the play are extraordinarily weak.
Nevertheless, we are a dramaturgical species and the study has one great virtue that compensates for its weaknesses—the comparison of differences, including differences between students who are motivated to seek dominance vs.
What were the results? In a nutshell, students motivated by dominance but not students motivated by prestige sabotaged their groups when their leadership position was threatened, but not otherwise. They did this in different versions of the experiment by limiting the ability of the most talented group member to send messages to other group members, by isolating the most talented group member in a separate room, and by preventing the most talented group member from socially bonding with the other members.
Just as a good play encapsulates what takes place in the real world, evidence for power-hungry individuals abusing their leadership roles can be found all around us—so much that once cued to the fact, one wonders why the experiments needed to be performed in the first place.
But cueing—another dramaturgical word— is necessary. Much of the time, we think and act in ways that are oblivious to the dangers of leaders abusing their power and are taken by surprise when it happens.
An example that made the news in concerns toxic leadership in the American armed forces. By a series of coincidences, an anthropologist was thrust into the position of investigating the high suicide rate of soldiers during the Iraq war.
He discovered that while suicide-prone soldiers had their own problems, they were often pushed over the edge by toxic leaders. Once discovered in this indirect way, toxic leadership began to be recognized as a systemic problem in the military.
But if the problem of leaders abusing their power is obvious, then why was the U. Business organizations are also afflicted.
A classic ethnography of a business corporation titled Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managersby the sociologist Robert Jackall, reads like a real-life version of those social psychology experiments. As the description of the book on Amazon. Nothing is obvious all by itself; only against the background of other beliefs.
Certain worldviews obscure the problem of toxic leadership, even though the problem is not only in front of our faces but slaps our faces again and again. To solve the problem of abuse by power-hungry leaders, the first step must be the adoption of a worldview that makes it obvious. One such worldview is evolutionary theory, in particular Multilevel Selection MLS theory, which has an extraordinary range of applications in the biological sciences and is only beginning to appear on the radar screen of the human social and behavioral sciences2.
Evolution is relentlessly relative.There is rarely one single, clear cause of conflict and, ultimately, war. The causes of a war are usually numerous, and several reasons for a conflict can be intertwined in a complicated way. I have a friend who believes that doing a PhD causes brain damage, not just depression.
Her theory was that the constant critique of other scholars’ work and self-critique of one’s own research/writing changed the brain’s wiring (she was a scientist). Our world can become a lot more interesting when we are open to accept other peoples differences.
This can be accomplished when we are open and curious. The two main simple sugars in your diet are glucose and fructose. Gram for gram, the two provide the same number of calories.
But the way they are metabolized in the body is completely different. Why have the Jews been kicked out of 88 different countries worldwide, why did they (NOT) want them colonising America, to stop it being destroyed, Jews build Nothing they don,t work, they destroy like parasites do.
The number one topic that brings people to my blog via Google search is whether or not to force kids to go to church (Google has put my page, “Should You Force Your Kids To Go To Church?” at the top of search results on the matter). Given how many parents search on the topic, it is obviously a common problem and question.