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Take Home Exam

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Assignment 1- Open Book Exam

PHC100 – Professional Communications

PHC100 Take Home Open Book Examination

1. You are a member of a decision making group at work where five people have a strong united vision, but three people including yourself, believe they are being dangerously optimistic, impulsive and misinformed. What social psychology theory of yourself and others would help you to maintain your own beliefs, and promote your minority position

When working within a group in a professional context it is essential that we understand how the individuals interact with each other and the group as a whole. It is important to maintain a strong sense of integrity and professionalism especially as part of a minority where there is a desire to maintain one’s own beliefs and promote that minority position. Through the understanding and application of social psychology concepts such as a self serving bias and belief perseverance we gain an insight into an individual’s self perception and motivations. An appreciation for how these individuals interact within the group and how the group as a whole behaves can be gained via concepts of groupthink, group polarization and the power of minority influence. An understanding and the applications of these concepts will aid individuals and those within a minority to be both assertive and resilient in their own beliefs as well as promoting that minority position.
A self serving bias has the effect of creating an inflated sense of self worth and leads to an individuals’ focus being placed on their own successes or strengths and their failures and negative traits are seemingly overlooked (Sherrill, 2007). In the professional context it is essential to understand that co workers will be subject to two interpretations of self: that which they have formed of themselves and that which is perceived by others. Their own perceptions will inherently be affected by a self serving bias and often result in an overestimation in the commonality of their opinions and an inflation in the perceived uniqueness of their own abilities (Myers, 2010, p. 72). As such, it can often be that a co worker you believe to be dangerously optimistic has been blinded by their inflated sense of self and truly believes they are likely to succeed. Any attempt to dissuade this person would be difficult due to a related phenomenon known as belief perseverance whereby a person maintains an initial belief even after it has been discredited (Myers, 2010, pp. 84-88). It has been suggested that such a result is caused by an individuals feeling that their self image is threatened by the discredited information and will maintain a resilience in their original belief (Cory L. Guenther, 2008). A self serving bias is important in the management of self esteem and contributes to the development of a resilient professional persona. Understanding the nature of belief perseverance will facilitate an altruistic attitude when one realizes those irrational beliefs can have negative connotations for others.
Groupthink is a social psychological concept that describes the interactions of those within a cohesive group that results in ineffective decision making (Myers, 2010), however studies have shown that directive leadership plays a greater role than cohesion (Fodor, 1982). A common issue faced by those affected by groupthink is that the desire to form a consensus to maintain their united vision will result in a disregard for factual information. This disregard for the facts will lead a group to be misinformed and make impulsive and dangerously optimistic decisions.
Groups that engage in a discussion or debate over a particular topic have a tendency to focus on information that enables them become further entrenched in their own ideas and beliefs (Myers, 2010, pp. 288-290). This is a result of group polarization. In a professional context a majority opinion within the workplace is likely to be intensified by debate, as is that of the minority. However, in maintaining a resilient and assertive persona it is beneficial to acknowledge the power of the minority influence and how a minority can be promoted. The decision making of a majority, while subject to the potential for groupthink and group polarization, can be influenced by an assertive and resilient minority party. It has been said that people want to be a part of the majority to gain social approval and as a result don’t consider the reasoning in detail, leading to public compliance but little private change (Robin Martin, 2012, p. 94). Due to those in the majority group often not being steadfast in their beliefs a minority group exhibiting the qualities facilitative of creating influence: confidence, persistence and self confidence (Myers, 2010, pp. 299-300) can cause others to reevaluate their ideas and potentially initiate a snowball effect as those of the majority defect to the minority viewpoint.
With the understanding and application of these social psychology concepts within the workplace it is possible for one to maintain an assertive and resilient professional persona that is able to promote their minority position while adhering to altruistic principles as to not perpetuate a minority viewpoint that would be detrimental to the others wellbeing.

2. (a) Complete the following table

Theory | Definition (30-100 words) | Evidence (including books and journal articles) | EXAMPLE:Planning fallacy | This theory is part of the overconfidence phenomenon whereby we overestimate how much time or money we will have in the future | Myers 2014, p93Other journal articles I may have accessed can also be listed here | Counterfactual thinking | This theory describes the phenomenon where alternative scenarios to that which occurred are easily imagined and can influence our feelings of regret or relief. As such, those who stain themselves with ink from a pen may feel regret for not choosing a pencil and conversely an Olympic bronze medalist will feel relieved that they made the podium. | (Myers, 2010, p. 97)(Paul L. Harris, 1996) | Attribution theories | Attribution theories are those that relate to how we perceive others actions and behaviour and in turn decide on a causal explanation. These attributions can be due to both internal and external reasoning. For example if a person were to lash out at someone it could be due their hostile personality(an internal or dispositional attribution) or alternatively this person could have been unfairly treated or within a high stress environment (external or situational attribution). Ignoring the situational causation is to commit the Fundamental Attribution Error. | (Myers, 2010, pp. 104-106)(Eberly, 2011) | Cognitive dissonance | Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that occurs “when an individual simultaneously holds two ideas, beliefs or opinions” (Aronson, 1969) which are not in harmony and therefore create a dissonance. An individual may make a decision favouring one alternative with little justification for doing so. When one has insufficient justification for their behaviour they are likely to internally rationalise reducing cognitive dissonance. | (Aronson, 1969)(Myers, 2010, pp. 141-143) | Social facilitation | The theory of social facilitation attempts to explain the positive or negative change in behaviour that occurs in the presence of others. When an individual is in the presence of others they can enter a state of psychological arousal that facilitates a response that is dominant or more likely to occur and inhibits non dominant responses. Evaluation apprehension causes an increase in the performance of simple tasks and a decrease in more complex ones. | (Myers, 2010, pp. 269-273)(Guerin, 2009, pp. 49-52) |

(b) Create a single Reference list for both Q1 and Q2

Aronson, E. (1969). The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance: A Current Perspective. (L. Berkowitz, Ed.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 4, 1-34. Retrieved from
Cory L. Guenther, M. D. (2008). Self Enhancement and Belief Perseverance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 706-712. Retrieved from
Eberly, H. ,. (2011). Beyond Internal And External: A Dyadic Theory of Relational Attributions. Academy of Management Review, 36(4), 731-753. doi:10.5465/amr.2009.0371
Fodor, E. M. (1982). The power motive as an influence on group decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42(1), 178-185. Retrieved from
Guerin, B. (2009). Social Facilitation. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
Myers, D. G. (2010). Social Psychology (10th ed.). McGraw Hill.
Paul L. Harris, T. G. (1996). Children's use of counterfactual thinking in causal reasoning. (G. T. Altmann, Ed.) International Journal of Cognitive Science, 61(3), 233-259. Retrieved from
Robin Martin, M. H. (2012). Social Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies. Retrieved from
Sherrill, M. (2007). Self Serving Bias. American Psychologist, 41, 954-969. Retrieved from

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