Computer-Mediated Group Brainstorming

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Effects of Anonymity and Social Comparison of Rewards on Computer-Mediated Group Brainstorming“, by Poppy Lauretta McLeod of Cornell University, was recently published in Small Group Research OnlineFirst. Professor McLeod has provided a personal perspective on the article:

Who is the target audience for this article?

Researchers interested in the effects of anonymity on task performance in computer-mediated group communication; managers who use anonymous computer-mediated discussion forums in their organizations.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I was inspired by a student who did her senior honor’s thesis on the topic.  Her initial interest was in technology, and talking with her helped me to recognitioon some assumptions about the effects of anonymity in reward distribution have not been questioned in research.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

I was surprised that there were virtually no effects on idea quality.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I hope it influences some assumptions about the effects of anonymity in reward distribution.  Anonymity removes public recognition, and this research shows that the lack of public recognition can reduce motivation.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

I am interested in sources of social influence in task-oriented groups.  This research focuses on the influence related to social comparisons.

How did your paper change during the review process?

Dick Moreland was terrific!  He helped me to focus the paper much more tightly on the social comparison processes, and to help me better see the complexity of social comparison processes.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

I would counterbalance the order of the two tasks; I would consider adding an objective comparison standard; I would try to find a way to manipulate independently anonymity of communication and anonymity of reward delivery.

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