SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Status hierarchies readily form in groups and, once established, limit lower-status group members’ opportunities for contributing to and influencing group decisions. Recent findings, however, suggest that the type of task on which a group works may allow lower-status individuals to break through power and prestige orders in a cooperative way while conflicting with ideas of their higher-status group members. In this article, we review a research program that investigates how task structure relates to status and influence in small groups. In one experiment, using groups of three female students as participants, we found that open-structured tasks allow lower-status group members to participate, receive positive evaluations, and improve their status more than closed-structured tasks. In a second experiment, using groups of two female students and a female experimenter as participants, we found that open-structured tasks and lower-status confederates foster more divergent thinking and indirect influence than closed-structured tasks and higher-status sources. Our findings contribute to the understanding of how immediate problem-solving environments contribute to status change and influence in small groups.