Can Voicing Dissent Lead to Ostracism from a Group?

[We’re pleased to welcome Johny T. Garner of Texas Christian University. Dr. Garner and Debra L. Iba, also of Texas Christian University, recently collaborated on the article “Changes in Eye Contact and Attraction Scores Relative to Ostracism and Dissent” from Small Group Research.]

Playing the devil’s advocate may be a sound approach for group and team SGR_72ppiRGB_powerpointmembers to take when they problem-solve. But, do dissenters pay a price? Our article, “Changes in Eye Contact and Attraction Scores Relative to Ostracism and Dissent,” was motivated by this possible conundrum. Research studies show that group members favor cooperative behaviors and that dissent offers members the chance to strengthen their decision-making process. If dissent during group problem-solving can potentially improve decision-making, then do team members respond favorably to someone who plays the devil’s advocate? Or do dissenters actually risk being viewed and treated differently, particularly when they express certain types of dissenting opinions?

We were a little surprised by these results. Based on anecdotal observations, we expected that all dissent, regardless of how it was expressed, might result in ostracism. Our findings, that dissenting with the majority’s ideas stimulated ostracism but that disagreeing with the group’s decision-making process may put the dissenter in more of a leadership position, reveal the importance of how members disagree.

You can read “Changes in Eye Contact and Attraction Scores Relative to Ostracism and Dissent” from Small Group Research for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest news and research from Small Group Research? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Garner_2012-100x130Johny T. Garner (PhD, Texas A&M University) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas Christian University, USA. His research focuses on organizational and group dissent and has appeared in Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Applied Communication Research, and the Journal of Business Communication.

0900-Debi-Iba-819x1024-100x130Debra L. Iba (PhD, University of North Texas) is an instructor in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas Christian University, USA. Her research interests include group behavior, social influence, and nonverbal communication.

This entry was posted in Communication, Competition, Decision making, Groups, Psychology, Relationships, Small Group Research, Teams and tagged , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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