The illusion of group productivity: a reduction of failures explanation
Article first published online: 1 DEC 2005
Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 36, Issue 1, pages 31–48, January/February 2006
How to Cite
Nijstad, B. A., Stroebe, W. and Lodewijkx, H. F. M. (2006), The illusion of group productivity: a reduction of failures explanation. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 36: 31–48. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.295
- Issue published online: 16 JAN 2006
- Article first published online: 1 DEC 2005
- Manuscript Accepted: 8 MAY 2005
- Manuscript Received: 8 JUL 2004
- The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Grant Number: 575-31.007
It has consistently been found that people produce more ideas when working alone as compared to when working in a group. Yet, people generally believe that group brainstorming is more effective than individual brainstorming. Further, group members are more satisfied with their performance than individuals, whereas they have generated fewer ideas. We argue that this ‘illusion of group productivity’ is partly due to a reduction of cognitive failures (instances in which someone is unable to generate ideas) in a group setting. Three studies support that explanation, showing that: (1) group interaction leads to a reduction of experienced failures and that failures mediate the effect of setting on satisfaction; and (2) manipulations that affect failures also affect satisfaction ratings. Implications for group work are discussed. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.