Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
LARSON, T. L. (2004). Does It Matter if You`re Black or White? a Study About Group Efficacy and Effectivness. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 7. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 28, 2023 .

Does It Matter if You`re Black or White? a Study About Group Efficacy and Effectivness
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
The purpose of the following study was to see if racial diversity had an influence on group efficacy and group performance. Participants were split into one of two dyads, racially diverse, or racially homogenous. They were each given a Likert-type group efficacy scale and were given five minutes to brainstorm with their partner. Group effectiveness was measured by the number of items each group brainstormed. It was hypothesized that the racially diverse groups would perform better on the brainstorming task, but the homogenous groups would have a higher group efficacy score. Independent t-tests were done, but no significant results were found to support either hypothesis. The diverse groups did do better on the brainstorming task, suggesting that with a larger sample size a significant result may be found. There was no difference in efficacy scores, suggesting that race has no effect on group efficacy.

Group Efficacy, a group’s collective belief in its capability to perform a task (Gibson, 1999) has been shown to have an impact on group effectiveness and group performance. Short-term group effectiveness is described by Hackman (1990) as the degree to which the group’s output meets the standards of those who receive or use it. The current study examines the effect of diversity on both group efficacy and short-term group effectiveness on a brainstorming task. How is group efficacy formed? A study by Gibson (2003) looked at some factors that are thought to develop group efficacy. She focused mainly on the mean self-efficacy of the group members, positive affect, status differential of members in the group, and the level of collectivism in the group. Status, according to Gibson, is the formal level of authority obtained within an organization. She believed that the higher those variables’ scores were, the higher the group efficacy score would be. After analyzing the data Gibson found that there was a significant positive relationship between self-efficacy and group efficacy, there was also a significant positive relationship between group affect and group efficacy. There was no support for the relationship between status differential; there was a relationship found between collectivism and group efficacy, but it was opposite of what was hypothesized. Therefore, now that we have some evidence on how group efficacy is formed, we can further discuss group efficacy in relation to time. Because most of the research that has been done on group efficacy and effectiveness has been studies that look at group efficacy and its relationship to short-term task performance, one researcher was curious to see if there would be a change in group efficacy if the task was over a longer period of time (one semester) than most of the previous research. Pescosolido (2003) examined the relationship of group efficacy to the following three variables: willingness to continue working together, amounts of learning and self-development gained, and the level of satisfaction with the group leadership opportunities available. He hypothesized that the groups with higher efficacy would have higher levels of the three variables, when compared to the lower efficacy groups. Efficacy scales were given to groups twice throughout the semester, once at the beginning of the semester after groups had chosen their project topic, and again on the last day of classes for that semester. Significant correlations were found in the original efficacy measurement to all three of the dependent variables, showing support for the hypothesis. In relation to group effectiveness and diversity, diversity has been shown to be both good, bad, and have no effect on the task outcome at all. A study by Rodriguez (1998) looked at the impact of within-group value diversity on personal satisfaction, group creativity, and group effectiveness. He hypothesized that value diversity would significantly explain the three variables of personal satisfaction, group creativity, and group effectiveness. What he found was that none of the demographic indicators (race, age, and gender) were statistically significant in predicting group effectiveness. No significant results were found. Diversity and group effectiveness has been studied repeatedly, as has group efficacy, but not much research has been done on the racioethnic diversity of group members and how that affects group efficacy. In 2001, a study by Sargent and Sue-Chan decided to change all of that by doing just that, examining the relationship between racioethnic diversity and group efficacy. Sargent and Sue-Chan hypothesized that racioethnic diversity is positively related to group outcome efficacy and group potency on completion of the assigned project. Analysis of the data showed that racioethnic diversity was a significant predictor of group potency and group outcome efficacy, supporting their hypothesis. The purpose of the current study is to examine the effects that diversity (participant’s race) might have on group efficacy and group performance. I hypothesize that homogenous groups will have higher group efficacy scores than will groups with diverse members. My second hypothesis is that diverse groups will have higher task performance scores than will the homologous groups.


The participants in this study included 96 students from Psychology, Biology, and Physical Education 101 level courses, Intermediate Psychology level courses, and one upper level Psychology course at Missouri Western State College. The participants included 19 non-white students, and 77 white students, 61 of which were female and 35 were male. Ages ranged from 18-56 with an average age of 23.5.

Materials consisted of a pre-task Likert-type group efficacy scale that included questions like, ‘How well do you think your group will do on this particular task?’, ‘How well do you think your group will do on this particular task in relation to other groups?’, and ‘How well do you think your group would do on a teamwork exercise, ex. Playing a sport, or cards?’. Participants ranked their performance on a 1-5 scale, five being very well, and one being very bad. The last question asked how the participant felt about the other member of their group, whether or not they liked them, and why or why not. A brainstorming task sheet was also used; this sheet explained the task to participants and had the brainstorming topic at the top. The brainstorming topic was, ‘What improvements or changes could be made to Missouri Western State College in order to increase enrollment?’. The last item needed was the after-task qualitative efficacy survey. This survey asked participants whether or not they felt their group was effective in completing the task, what would have made it easier to complete the task, and what, if any, limitations held their group back.

When the participants arrived, they were split into one of two groups by their race. (Age and gender were controlled for as best as possible to make the homogenous groups as homogenous as possible.) It was explained to them that the researcher was looking at the performance of different groups, but no specifics were given. The two groups are homogenous groups (members of the same race) and diverse groups (members of different races). Once in their groups, members were given the pre-task efficacy scale and the task sheet. Members of the diverse groups were given sheets with small dots on the backside in order to be able to tell them apart from homogenous groups without it being obvious about what was going on. The task was then explained to the participants. The pre-task scales were collected, and the groups were given five minutes to brainstorm as many ideas as possible. Participants were notified of the time remaining at every minute interval. After the five minutes were up, they were given the after-task efficacy survey, given time to complete that and were then debriefed.

An independent-samples t test was calculated comparing the mean performance scores of the diverse and homogenous groups. No significant difference was found (t(46) = .684, p > .05). The mean of the diverse groups (m = 12.79, sd = 4.86) was not significantly different from the mean of the homogenous groups (m = 11.93, sd = 3.81) on the brainstorming task. An independent-samples t test was also done to compare the mean scores of both groups to each question on the pre-task efficacy scale. For the first question, ‘How well do you think your group will do on this particular task?’ no significant difference was found (t(94) = -.350, p > .05). The mean of the diverse group (m = 3.89, sd = .689) was not significantly different from the mean of the homogenous group (m = 3.95, sd = .759). The second question, ‘How well do you think your group will do on this particular task in relation to other groups?’ also did not yield a significant difference between the two groups (t(94) = -.140, p > .05). The diverse group mean (m = 3.84, sd = .679) was not significantly different from the mean of the homogenous group (m = 3.86, sd = .687). The third question, ‘How well do you think your group would do on a teamwork exercise, ex. Playing a sport, or cards?’ was also not significant (t(94) = .194, p > .05). The diverse group mean (m = 3.95, sd = .769) was not significantly different from the homogenous group mean (m = 3.91, sd = .864).

Although no significant results were found between the groups for effectiveness, the direction of the hypothesis was found; meaning diverse groups did marginally better than the homogenous groups. There was also no significant difference between the two groups on group efficacy scales; meaning in this study racial diversity had no effect on the individual’s perceived group efficacy. The present research supports the idea that research on group effectiveness and diversity has generated all types of outcomes. If the sample size were larger, it would be possible that it support other previous research. This research also shows no support for previous research on group efficacy. One limitation to the current study includes the sample size and breakdown of demographics. The homogenous groups consisted mainly of white females. It was very difficult to get males and non-whites to participate in this study. Because the experiment took 15-20 minutes, it had to be done outside of the classroom on a volunteer basis. Those who volunteered and showed up were mainly white females. The researcher tried, but scheduling conflicts would not allow an appointment to be made with a non-white fraternity on campus. Because no non-white homogenous groups were included in the data, they could not be represented for adequately, and data were weaker for that reason. There were also more homogenous groups than diverse groups, making the research weak, in order to sufficiently calculate the data, there should be equal numbers of both groups. Homogenous groups were in such a high number because the researcher kept trying to get diverse groups, but was not getting the adequate sampling she needed.The scale for group efficacy could also have been weak. Because the researcher generated the scale herself, it is possible that it was weak. Another reason why significant results were not found on group efficacy could be that group members just wanted to be nice. They may have been afraid that their partner would see their answers, so they answered more generously than they would have if they were not afraid. An example of this would be the responses received to the question, ‘Looking at the other member of your group do you think you like them? Why or why not?’. Nearly all participants put yes and gave a reason why (looks intelligent, friendly, kind, easy to get along with, seems cool), and a few put ‘I cannot tell at this time’. A few limitations the participants suggested were the fact that some of them were non-traditional aged, so it was difficult for them to generate suggestions that younger, more traditional aged students would enjoy.If these limitations were fixed, there is a good possibility that the diverse groups would be more successful on the brainstorming task. If the efficacy scale was replaced by a more reliable one, it is possible that a difference between the diverse and homogenous groups would be present.One thing that could be changed in this study would be to increase the number of individuals in each group to see if three, four, or five people in a group generate the same results. Increasing the amount of time from five to ten minutes on the brainstorming task may produce different results, or even significant results. Also giving the participants the brainstorming task a day in advance to let them think, and then having them complete the task. Those are all possible changes and new directions for research.

Gibson, C. B. (1990). Do they believe they can? Group-efficacy and group performance across tasks and cultures. Academy of Management Journal, 42I, 138-152.Gibson, C. B. (2003). Factors related to the formation of group efficacy. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 2153-2186.Hackman, J. R. (1990). Work teams in organizations: An orienting framework. In J. R. Hackman (Ed.), Groups that work (and those that don’t) (1-14). San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass.Pescosolido, A. T. (2003). The effects of group efficacy over time on group performance and development. Small Group Research, 34, 20-42.Rodriguez, R. A. (1998). A pilot study investigating diversity in group composition. Small Group Research, 29, 744-759.Sargen, L. D., & Sue-Chan, C. (2001). Does diversity affect group efficacy? The intervening role of cohesion and task interdependence. Small Group Research, 32, 426-450.

Submitted 5/4/2004 5:13:21 PM
Last Edited 5/4/2004 5:31:26 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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