THE EFFECT OF THE LABORATORY SITUATION ON EXPERIMENTAL DISCUSSION GROUPS.
DUKE UNIV DURHAM N C
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The study attempts to determine the effect of the presence of an observer and the saliency of the experimental task upon laboratory discussion groups. Five groups of five subjects each were assigned to each cell of a two by two design 1. observer present versus observer absent and 2. task used versus task not used. The observed-task not used condition was designed to resemble the typical experimental situation. The strongest differences were found across the observed-not observed conditions. Observed groups had higher rates of task-oriented interaction and lower rates of task-irrelevant interaction, but no difference was found in actual productivity. Differentiation between the sociometric dimensions of best idea rankings and liking rankings was greater in the not observed condition. This was attributed to the greater variation in interaction content in this condition. The methodological implication of the results is discussed and the results are used to interpret the findings of other studies dealing with the development of experimental discussion groups over time. Author