A Field Study of Social Information Processing Mean Differences and Variance Differences



    1. Mary D Zalesny (Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980) is an assistant professor of management and psychology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
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    1. Richard V. Farace (Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1965) is professor of organizational communication at Michigan State University. The authors wish to thank Charles L. Hulin, Ralph Katerberg, Lawrence Messe, Gerald R. Salancik, Neal Schmitt, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. Address all correspondence to Mary D Zalesny, School of Business Administration, University of Missouri-St. Louis, MO 63121.
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Previous tests of the effects of socially transmitted information have not provided strong support for a social information processing approach to the formation of work related attitudes and perceptions. This study proposes that the attention-focusing effects of social information should be evidenced by unequal response variance and not necessarily in the typically hypothesized between-group mean differences of previous investigations. Three separate assessments of informational influence on work environment perceptions were conducted on a sample of state government emloyees who were relocating to an open office environment. Predictions of smaller within-group variances for employees receiving environment-salient information were partially supported in the hypotheses tested. Comparison of variance versus mean differences suggests that mean differences alone may not be sufficient for detecting social information processing effects on stimulus perception and evaluation.