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Attributions after a group failure: Do they matter?


Attributions have been studied extensively in groups, yet little is known about the effects attributions have on group communication and performance. This study examines how attributions for a group failure affect socioemotional communication, procedural changes, effort, and performance on the next task. Three-member computer-mediated groups worked on two decision-making tasks. All groups received bogus failure feedback for the first task and, dependent on the attributional condition, members were led to attribute the failure either to self, other members, the group as a whole, or situational constraints. The results demonstrate that the way group members explain previous performance influences subsequent group processes and performance. Specifically, attribution to situational constraints prompted groups to discuss and change communication procedures. Attributing failure to the self or group yielded the highest effort. Attributions to others increased the ratio of negative to positive socioemotional communication and decreased performance quality.

N. Bazaova
J.T. Hancock
Communication Research, 39, 499-522
Publication Date
August 1, 2012