The Effects of Group Status on Intragroup Behavior: Implications for Group Process and Outcome
How does the status of a group influence the behavior of individuals within the group? This dissertation aims to answer this question by investigating the psychological and behavioral implications of membership in high- versus low-status groups, with a primary focus on the impact of membership in a high-status group. I propose that membership in high-status groups leads to self-oriented intragroup behavior, behavior that best suits members’ own interests regardless of the impact on group outcomes. In five studies, I test this idea and examine the psychological mechanism underlying this effect. The first three studies find that membership in a high-status group (a) decreases the resources allocated for the group as members attempt to ensure personal gain; (b) lowers the preference for a competent newcomer who may enhance group outcome but who may jeopardize personal gains; and (c) reduces the amount of voluntary information sharing during group negotiations, hindering group outcomes. The findings also reveal that reducing the conflict between group and personal interests via cooperative incentives encourages group-oriented behavior in high-status groups. The next two studies conceptually replicate these findings focusing on members’ information withholding – self-oriented behavior designed to prevent other in-group members from outperforming them. Specifically, results reveal that high-status group-membership increases intentional withholding of information, which in turn impairs group outcomes. However, this damaging pattern of intragroup behavior triggered by membership in a high-status group is alleviated when group members are led to believe that their group status is at stake. Taken together, this dissertation provides converging evidence that membership in high-status groups increases emphasis on personal interests within the group and that these concerns manifest in intragroup behavior that is distinct from that triggered by membership in low-status groups. The findings illuminate how the status of a group might shape the ways that members interact with other in-group members, as well as document the potential micro- and meso-level mechanisms through which status differences among social groups persist and change.
- Tepper School of Business
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)