Motivation and productivity in small, task-oriented groups
McDonald-Pierce, Linda G
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The Worker Motivation Scale (WMS) was developed to assess the interactional styles of individuals in groups (Johnson, McDonald, & George, 1984). Three styles were identified. These were Team Motivation (TM), Prominence Motivation (PM), and Affiliation Motivation (AM). TM scores have been used successfully to predict helping behavior among group members. Members high in TM were more helpful than members low in TM. Group cohesion level and group norms have also been proposed as important helping behavior predictors. The present experiment was designed to examine the relationship among TM, cohesion, and norms for predicting helping behavior in small, task-oriented groups. Two students and one confederate participated in an interdependent task. The confederate, working slowly, created the situation in which help was needed. Students could increase group productivity by choosing to help the confederate, or choose not to help and continue to work on their own portion of the task. Results indicate, that regardless of TM or normatively prescribed behavior, students in highly cohesive groups were more helpful than students in groups low in cohesion [F(l, 76) = 3.74, p < .05, one tail]. These unexpected results were due to several factors. The designed task was too difficult. Only students extremely skilled at operating a calculator had the ability to improve the group's productivity. The selection procedure used created an artifactual negative correlation between TM and PM in the students chosen. Research has shown these scales to be independent. Choosing students in such a way as to produce the negative relationship between TM and PM negated the effect of TM. Finally, students assigned to the high TM, low cohesion condition were higher in AM than students in the other conditions. Theoretically, students high in AM are more affected by cohesiveness than are students moderate or low in AM. The effects of varying levels of TM, PM, and AM on group members' behavior is not fully understood. Future researchers will need to beware of possible differential effects. It is clear, however, that group cohesion is an important predictor of group effectiveness.