Craig Parks Discusses Group Dynamics

View Segments Segment :

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Embed
  • Link
  • Help
  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Embed
  • Link
  • Help
Successfully saved clip
Find all your clips in My Lists
Failed to save clip
  • Transcript
  • Transcript

    Auto-Scroll: ONOFF 
    • 00:06

      [What does group dynamics mean to you,or how would you describe it to your students?]

    • 00:11

      CRAIG D. PARKS: I describe group dynamicsas the study of how people interact with each otherand relate to each other. [Craig D. Parks, PhD, Professorof Psychology, Washington State University]And the point that I make to themis that you can't live in modern societywithout engaging with others.And so I really see group dynamicsas nothing less than the study of everyday life, actually.

    • 00:34

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: [What first inspired you to start researchin the field of group dynamics?I was first inspired to look at group dynamicswhen I was a senior undergraduate.I started by having an interest in organizational psychology,and so much so that in my senior year in college,

    • 00:57

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: I actually applied to graduate programsin organizational psych.And then I took an undergrad social psychology classand I loved it, and I did very, very well in it.And the professor invited me to beinvolved in research with him.And the project that he was working onwas a project looking at the performance of student teamswho were assigned projects.

    • 01:18

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And my job was to manage one of the student teams and recorddata on them over the course of the semester.And he told me in advance, these are some thingsthat you might observe.Not so much that it skewed the datathat I collected for him, just kind of a heads-upthat you might see these things.And if you see them, it's OK.Don't intervene.

    • 01:39

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: This is what we want.And sure enough, a lot of the thingsthat he told me I would probably see, I did see.And I was so fascinated by both his abilityto predict that those things would happenand the aftermath of those things actually occurring.I could see that those events seemedto really predict other events.

    • 01:59

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And I was so fascinated by that that I decided that thatwas what I wanted to do.And so I actually had to contact every graduate programand say, please switch my applicationfrom organizational psychology to social psychology.[What is the relationship between group dynamicsand intergroup relations?What are the areas of difference or similarity between these twoterms?]The relationship between group dynamics and intergroup

    • 02:21

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: relations is, in my mind, a very complementary one.I see group dynamics as really focusingon the functioning of an intact group,so people working together to producesome kind of collective product, productbeing very broadly defined.I see interpersonal relations as focusing more on the dynamics

    • 02:45

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: within the group, the individuals relatingto each other-- and so things like prejudice, discrimination,ingroup favoritism, outgroup hostility, thingsalong those lines.So the focus there with the intergroup relationsis the more immediate, I would say,

    • 03:06

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: involvement of the people with each other.And then I see the dynamic of the intergroup relationsthen feeding into that larger group dynamic thatorients around the overall performance,the overall productivity of the entire collective.[Which key thinkers have inspired you,and who continues to influence you?]

    • 03:29

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: The key thinkers who inspired me when I was a studentwere, first of all, my mentors.I went to the University of Illinois, and at that time,they had a large collective of peoplewho were looking at groups.Jim Davis was my dissertation advisor.I worked quite a lot with Sam [INAUDIBLE].

    • 03:50

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Pat Laughlin was also there.Joe McGrath was also there.Harry Triandis was there doing cross-cultural stuff.And so just a huge, huge, huge group environment.So besides those people who I had the privilege of learningfrom every day, there were reallytwo people who most strongly inspired meas a student-- Dave Messick, who was at UC Santa

    • 04:14

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Barbara at the time.And Dave-- this was in the 1980s--had just begun doing his work on resource dilemmasand working in large part with Chuck McClintock,but also a number of other things on his ownwith some of his students and former students-- Rod Kramer,for example, Charlie Samuelson, Scott Allison.

    • 04:35

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And the stuff that that group was doing justabsolutely fascinated me, in terms of understanding howpeople make decisions about sampling from resources,how people react when they discover that the resource isdwindling more quickly than they thought it would.The whole issue of social value orientation, the factthere were these individual differences

    • 04:57

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: that seem to predict how people would behavein those situations, I just really gravitated toward that,and I loved reading everything that Dave did.The other really important personwas Norb Kerr at Michigan State.And Norb had actually followed my bloodline,because he'd also worked with Jim Davis.He'd gone to Illinois.He worked with Jim Davis, as well.

    • 05:19

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: But everything that Norb was doingwas very interesting to me, as well.What I really gravitated towards with Norbis that he moved very easily among a numberof different groups topics.And so he also did work on social dilemmasand cooperation.He did just as much work on group performance.And then he had a third line looking at juries.

    • 05:42

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And it seemed like you could neverpredict which of those topics Norb would do next.He seemed equally active in all of those.And I very much admired that, in addition to, of course,just the way that he thought and his ideas, and so on.And I actually get a chuckle, because I'mvery fortunate that Norb became a good friend of mine

    • 06:02

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: and remained so to this day.I was just talking to him a couple of weeks ago, actually.And he's always horrified that he was one of my heroes,and he says that that indicates that Idon't have very good judgment, actually, so.But those were the two people outside of Illinois who really,really, really strongly inspired me.People who I look to, to this day, who really grabbed me,

    • 06:28

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: I probably couldn't begin to name all the people whoreally inspire me.One person that immediately comes to mindis Paul Van Lange in the Netherlands.I also am fortunate to count Paulas a great friend and collaborator, as well.But everything that Paul does, I findto be amazingly interesting.I always look forward to the work that he has coming out.

    • 06:50

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: A number of other people in the Netherlands,as well, whose work I greatly like to read.Dom Abrams-- I love what Dom does and havea hard time keeping up with Dom, actually, in terms of reading.But I love what Dom does and his whole thinkingon ingroup/outgroup issues is very strong as well.[How has the field of group dynamics changed in recent

    • 07:12

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: years, and what developments you consider most significant?]The biggest change in the field of group dynamicsover the recent past that I've seenis that a substantial number of researchers of group dynamicsnow seem to be working in the area of management, businessschools, publishing in management

    • 07:33

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: and organizational psychology journals.So when I was in graduate school,and this is the mid-'80s-- I finished in 1991--it was quite rare to find systematic research on groupsand group performance and group dynamics in Journal of AppliedPsychology or Organizational Behavior and Human Decision

    • 07:53

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Processes, journals like that.You just really didn't see that very much at all.Most of it was in JPSP, Journal of Experimental SocialPsych, places like that.But then the researchers and business schools,management schools, really startedto get interested in the practical aspects of group

    • 08:14

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: management and trying to figure out why groups didn't oftenperform as well as they could, why they were inefficient,and ways to improve their functioning.And that research moved quite heavilyover to these business and management journals.And I would argue that that is where it largely resides today.

    • 08:38

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: You see far more publications on a lot of group performancetopics in the management-oriented journals,not very much in the mainstream social journalsanymore, with the exception of some topics in intergrouprelations.But by and large, a lot of the group dynamic stuffis now in management journals.And in fact, I've been a consulting editor for OBHDP

    • 09:01

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: for many, many, many years, and I probablyreview maybe more for that journalthan I do almost any other one.[What new research directions do you find most exciting,and where would you like to take your own research?]The new research directions that reallyexcite me the most at the moment are twofold.

    • 09:23

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: One, there's a slow but growing integrationof personality factors into the understanding of groupperformance.Once again, you see this much more heavilyin the business and management journalsthan you do in the social psychological journals.But looking at things like how the collectionof personalities within the group

    • 09:46

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: help or hinder group performance.So what's the mix of people on this particular Big Fivecharacteristic?And does it impact group performance?If it does, for what kinds of tasks does it impact in?I'm a very strong believer in person-by-situationinteractions and that the dynamics of an individual's

    • 10:08

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: personality, in many cases-- not all, but in many cases--does have an impact both on the individual performanceand the collective performance.And I really think that's been a neglected in groupsresearch over the past decades.And that research is growing now.Within, I would say, over the last 10 to 15 years,within the management-oriented groups literature,

    • 10:30

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: they're really focusing in on that.I find that just very interestingand very fascinating.The other area of, I would say, relatively recent developmentof group performance is in tryingto connect group-level issues to some real pressingsocial problems-- so, for example, climate change.

    • 10:52

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Can we understand some dynamics of climate change,resource consumption, resource conservation,by appealing to some of these group dynamic factors?And that's very early in the game.It's not at all clear, at this point,whether we can reduce the assessment to the micro level,

    • 11:13

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: the small group that psychologistslike to focus on, and really be able to account for someof the variation in perceptions of climate change, willingnessto undertake energy conservation measures, and so on.But I think we can.And so, for example, if you take a look at the company Opower,that believes that a major way-- perhaps the best way--

    • 11:39

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: to encourage people to conserve energyis to have them engage in social comparisonand inform them about the levels of energy consumptionthat their neighbors are showing relative to themselves.Very much heavily based on Bob Cialdini's work.And the idea being there that if yousee that relative to your neighbors

    • 12:02

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: or relative to similar others, you'reconsuming a lot more energy than they are,then this model, the Opower model, argues that as a result,you'll start to cut back on your energy usage.And so the idea there is to informconsumers about their behavior and the behavior of others

    • 12:24

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: and let them take it from there.Engage in the social comparison, engage in the desireto not be perceived as a deviant,engage in the desire to fit in, and thatas a result that would lead to greater conservation.And so that's, I think, a very exciting new development.Very new.Has a lot of promise and, I think, a lot of importance

    • 12:47

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: as well.And in fact, that's the direction that I'vebegun to take my own research into,is to try to use my interest in cooperationto try to understand energy use, energy abuse,perceptions of climate change, and these resource consumptionand conservation issues.[Are there any major academic debates in this field?

    • 13:08

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: What are the principal areas of contention, and why?]I wouldn't say that we have any major debates along the linesof nature/nurture, what's intelligence,can you measure intelligence, is theresuch a thing as intelligence?We don't have anything along those lines.

    • 13:28

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: The debates that exist, I would argue,are much more focused at a much lower level.And so things like-- well, I justgave the example of personality, on whether or not personalityfactors are important, relevant, influential

    • 13:48

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: on group performance.That's an issue that you will find some degree of discussionabout.I myself have been heavily involved in thatbecause a few years ago, three or four years ago,I wrote a chapter for Handbook on the study of personalitywithin groups.And my argument was that it's been very scattershot,

    • 14:10

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: and that's a real shame.And I had a lot of people who said, I read your chapter.It was really interesting, but I think you're wrong.It's nice work, I learned a lot, but I justdon't think personality is that important in understandingthe performance of groups.And that's an issue that goes back to the early '50s.And some of the models that were applied back

    • 14:32

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: in the '50s and early '60s to try and understandwhat a group exactly is, those modelstended to discount individual differences as just noise,error in the system.And so that's an issue that tends to exist today.You will find some discussion, particularlywithin the management organizational literature,

    • 14:52

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: about whether there's a differencebetween a group and a team.Some people use those terms interchangeably.Others use them distinctively.And what the latter camp will sayis that a group is more or less a collection of individuals,like an ad hoc kind of group, whereas a team has chemistry,has a history, has a developed interpersonal dynamic that

    • 15:17

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: brings something more or less intangibleto their functioning.That's an issue that gets discussed a fair amount aswell.[How important are research methodology and methodsfor a rigorous analysis of group dynamics?]Research methodology is absolutelycritical to group dynamics.In fact, I would argue that it's perhaps more critical than it

    • 15:40

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: is in the study of individuals.And that's not to say that it's unimportantwhen studying individuals.But rather when you're dealing with groups,you have a much greater likelihoodof introducing error and uncontrollable factors.And so if I bring four individuals into my lab,for example, I assume that they don't know each other,

    • 16:02

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: but I can't guarantee that.And in fact, it might be the casethat in some of the groups, I have pairs of friends,and in other groups, I have four strangers.Well, the pair of friends are very reasonably going worktogether much more often.They're going to be very similar to each other.

    • 16:23

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And that will introduce a source of errorthat doesn't exist if I've got a set of fourunknown individuals.There's nothing I can do about that.I could try, in posting my sign-up sheetsfor the experiments, to say that you cannot bring a friend.You have to sign up alone.

    • 16:43

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And if people say, OK, I'll do that, it stilldoesn't eliminate the possibilitythat two friends could sign up for the same groupunbeknownst to each other.And if they show up at my lab and they discover that hey,I didn't know you were coming to this,I'm not going to intervene and say,oh, you two know each other?Well, I can't use you.I don't want to use you.

    • 17:04

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Everybody go home.I'm just not going to do that.And so it introduces that possibility, a source of errorthat you're just not going to have if you're goingto study isolated individuals.That's going to be there.If we are letting people talk to each other, thenwho knows what they're going to say?

    • 17:24

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: You can't control what they're going to say.You can't control how they will react to each other.If you're not using an inflammatory or a controversialtask, probably nothing's going to come upthat will really cause a strong reaction in people.But I have had it happen.Very mundane, simple, everyday kind

    • 17:45

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: of tasks where one person says or does somethingthat another person happens to react toin a somewhat negative manner.And now what?Now the whole thing comes crashing down, perhaps.You have to intervene.You have to stop the study.Once again, you're much less likely to havesomething like that happen if you're studying an individual.So when you're working with groups, the mere fact

    • 18:07

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: that they are together, especially if you'regoing to have them interacting together,introduces all kinds of possibilities for disruptionof flow, contribution error variation,that you're just probably not going to get with individuals.And so the research methodology is very critical.And if you're going to do research on groups,you really, really need to understand them.

    • 18:29

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: You can even have something as simple as group size.So we know that things that happen in a four-person groupdon't happen in a five-person group, necessarily.Don't happen in a three-person group, necessarily.And so you've got to decide upfront what size groupyou want to use.You've got to make sure that you maintain that groupsize all the way through.That means that you might be wasteful.

    • 18:50

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: If you're using four-person groupsand for this particular session, only three people show up,you need to let them go, or you needto come up with something else for them to do.Because what happens in a three-person groupmight not happen in a four-person group.They're really not comparable to each other.[What are the key research methods that you employ?]

    • 19:12

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: The key research methods that I use are fairly straightforward.There are well-established methodsthat you can use to study group dynamics and group functioning.In terms of the stimuli that you use,you generally want to try to use somethingthat is novel to people.

    • 19:32

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: You'd rather they not come in-- I'm sorry.You'd rather they not work on a task thatrequires them to rely upon previous understanding,because you don't know what that previous understanding is.In all likelihood, each person's goingto have a somewhat different understandingof the issue, different knowledge bases on the issue.

    • 19:53

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And again, you can't control that.If you said your discussion topictoday is going to be the crisis in the Gaza Strip,for example, you might have the first group come inand you might have four people who don't even know what'sgoing on in the Gaza Strip.They might not know where it is.The second group that comes in, youmight have four news junkies.

    • 20:14

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And the four who don't know anything about itare going to have a very basic discussion.They're going to fumble around a lot.They're going to have to try to figure out whatit is you're talking about.And that's going to have very different data setthen the four news junkie sitting down and discussingthe very fine points of the Gaza conflict.

    • 20:36

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Are those two groups comparable to each other?Probably not.So now what do you do?Can you use both groups?Do you have to get rid of one of the groups?And so really, the best way to dealwith that is to use a novel stimulus task, somethingthat you're going to introduce the people to,that you're going to educate them on and inform them on,

    • 20:58

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: so you have your best chance of having people be as equalas they can be on their understanding.And across groups, having a similar level of understanding,that's how you can really get at and isolate,as best you can, they key phenomenathat you want to look for.[Are there any classic or seemingly 'untouchable' studiesin this field that have been reevaluated in light of recent

    • 21:18

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: academic developments?]A classic study in the field that, at one time,was thought of as untouchable-- and Iwould argue that for a couple of reasons,it's still largely untouchable-- that has been reevaluatedis the Stanford Prison Experiment.And so this was done 1969, 1970.I think most people are familiar with it.

    • 21:40

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: So in the basement of the Stanford Psychology building,Phil Zimbardo set up a prison, brought some people in.Some were prisoners and some were guards.And what he found was that the guards very quickly startedto act very domineering.The prisoners started to very quickly actkind of very cowed and very helpless.

    • 21:60

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And then, of course, he had to terminate the study.And very newsworthy, and we've talked about it.It's in introductory psych books and so on.And then 10 years or so ago, Alex Haslam, Steve Reicher,reproduced this study, as I remember,with the help of the BBC.And what happened was not only did they not replicate what's

    • 22:21

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Zimbardo found, but they actuallyfound the reverse, where the prisoners very quickly becamevery rebellious and the guards became very meek.And so as a result of that, there'sbeen a discussion, now, about how broader generalizablethe results of the Stanford Prison Studyare, how likely they are to happen in other contexts.

    • 22:45

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And that's a debate that's still happening today.[Can you provide any examples of key research in the fieldof group dynamics that has had a direct impact on the workof practitioners outside of academia,and what changed as a result?]Research in the field of group dynamicsthat's had a direct impact outside of academia,I think there are a lot of examples of that, once again,drawing upon the more applied work in management.

    • 23:06

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And so we see a lot of research coming outof there on leadership.And leadership, of course, an aspectof group dynamics, how leaders and subordinates interactwith each other.And you see a lot of works being written for business leaders,for managers, about styles of leadership, dynamicsof leadership, trying to update them on the most

    • 23:30

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: recent developments and provide advicefor how to execute leadership and howto motivate subordinates.That's something that's really been important.A lot of the work on conflict resolution,the dynamics of conflict resolution, howto manage workplace conflict.A friend of mine, Shirli Kopelman,at the University of Michigan Business School,

    • 23:52

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: just came out with a very nice monographon conflict resolution, and it's written for managers.And that's a great book.As I said, it's not long.It's a wonderful read.And it's very practical advice for managersabout how to deal with conflict within work teams,conflict between subordinates, and how to resolve it,

    • 24:16

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: and how to help minimize the negative impacton productivity.So we really are seeing a lot of examplesof this, where people who are doing work that is directlyrelated to workplace functioning,managerial functioning, are takingthe literatures, the empirical literatures,and compiling them in very nice ways

    • 24:37

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: into these books for people out there in the workplace.[If a student could read one book, journal article,or bulletin on group dynamics to inspire or motivate them,what would it be, and why?]If I was only going to have a student readone piece, one book or one paper, monograph-- boy.I would be very hard-pressed to probably come up

    • 24:59

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: with a short list of five things for them to read.If I was going to pick one, I would probably pick a bookby Jim Larson called In Search of Synergyin Small Group Performance.And it's certainly not written for undergraduates.It does require a little bit of background.But it's wonderfully accessible.And what Jim, I think, very nicely does in this book

    • 25:24

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: is talk about the basic idea that if youtake a look at a group and the collection of abilitiesand the collection of skills, and you just added those skillsand abilities together, what you would seeis that that group should be amazingly productive.But they're not.They're not amazingly productive.There's a lot of waste.

    • 25:45

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: There's a lot of misuse and disuse of resources.And so then his central question is, why is this?And then a related question-- what can we do about this?So how can we take these wonderful units-- and if youthink about it, in many societies,certainly in the US society, groups makeall the important decisions.So your guilt or innocence is decided not by a judge,

    • 26:08

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: but by a jury.The final decision on laws is not the president,but Congress, since Congress can override vetoes.Companies are run not by CEOs, but by boards of directors.Public universities are run not by presidents,but by boards of trustees or boards of regents.So we really value collectives.

    • 26:29

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: We put a tremendous amount of weight on collective wisdomand having people talk about things and come to consensus.And what we know-- and again, what I think Jim verywonderfully demonstrates in his book-- is that yeah,those collectives have the potential to make excellent

    • 26:52

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: decisions, make very well-thought-out decisionsand be highly productive, but usually they don't.And we really ought to know why that is,and we really ought to try to fix it.So if I had to pick just one, I thinkLarson's book is the one I would have people read.[What are the practical benefits of studying group dynamics

    • 27:14

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: for a student's academic or professional future?]The practical benefit of studying group dynamicsis, as I've mentioned, the fact that groups in our society,and groups in most societies, do most everything.And at a very basic level, you can'tfunction as a social being without interacting

    • 27:34

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: with people.So you can't live as a hermit.Well, people do try to live as hermits, but you can't do that.Even if you think about something as basic as goingto the grocery store.Going to the grocery store involves interactionwith at least one person, the cashier.And so when you go to pay for your goods,

    • 27:55

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: you implicitly understand that you'regoing to hand the goods over to the cashier.The cashier is going to total up the price, ask you for money.You're going to provide that money.And if you provide more money than is asked for,then the cashier is going to refund the difference to you.All of this is understood.And as I delineate that, it may sound

    • 28:17

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: like kind of a silly example, because you might say, well,of course.That's crazy.But the bottom line is that all of thoseare processes that had to evolve.And for me, a wonderful example of thatis a number of years ago, we had a new graduate studentat our university, a student I was teaching,and he was from Nigeria.

    • 28:37

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: And the very first time he went to the grocery store in the US,they totaled up his groceries and theysaid, that'll be whatever, $60.And he said, I'll give you $40.Because in his country, you neverpay the price that's quoted.And in fact, if you do, the merchantwon't sell to you, because they think you're crazy.So he didn't understand that in our country,

    • 28:60

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: you don't bargain for groceries.When the cashier tells you this is the price, that's the price.That is what you have to give.And so he said he was very embarrassed by this,and the cashier was puzzled.And the cashier called the manager,and the manager came over.And luckily, very empathetic managerrealized what was going on and took Joseph aside, and said,

    • 29:22

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: we don't do that.Here, the price is what is shown,and the price, the total price that's quoted to youis what you have to pay.And he quickly grasped that, and he paid for his groceriesand he left.But it's a very nice example.And I still use that example today,when I teach group dynamics, to saythat almost everything you do on a daily basis

    • 29:45

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: involves interaction with somebody else.And if you don't perform that interaction efficiently,problems will arise.So again, as I said at the start I reallysee the study of group dynamics as the study of everyday lifeand how we function of everyday life.That's the appeal I would make to a student who's

    • 30:05

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: interested in groups.[What would you identify as the key challenges of a coursein this field for a student, and what strategies would youadvise to counter these challenges?]The key challenges to studying group dynamics,I would say that the primary one is understandingthat the research is very time-consuming and very

    • 30:26

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: labor-intensive.So if you're studying individuals,if you bring four people into your lab,there's four data points right there.20 sessions, you have 80 people-- thatmight be enough for your study.With the study of groups, you bring four peopleinto your lab, that's one data point.

    • 30:47

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: After 20 hours, you only have 20 data points.That's probably not going to be enough.And so execution of the work is time-consuming.It's very time-consuming.If you need four people and three people show up,you might not be able to run that session.You won't be able to get a data point for that session.

    • 31:08

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: Again, if you're studying individuals,three people show up, that's three data pointsinstead of four.It doesn't really matter for you.But with groups, you have to have that number of peopleshow up.And if they don't, then the peoplewho have arrived at your study are goingto be doing something else.So you lose a lot of sessions.It takes a very long time to get the data,

    • 31:29

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: and you have to understand that.There are a lot of false starts.There are a lot of challenges.If you have a group where somethinggoes awry-- you have two members thatdevelop a conflict with each other--you have to terminate the study.You've just lost a data point.So it requires a lot of patience.Because of these additional sources of error variation,

    • 31:49

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: the analyses are much trickier.And we have some particular analytical techniquesthat are designed just for the studies of groupsin particular situations.Those analytical techniques can be difficult to master.They're not really needed when you study individuals.So this is what I see as the key challengeto doing groups research.

    • 32:11

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: It's time-consuming.It's fraught with methodological challenges and difficulties.And you need a lot of patience, and you justhave to fight through it.[How do you think about the public impact of your ownresearch, and how do you assess the contribution of groupdynamics research to society at large?]The public contribution of my workis-- I would like to think of value.

    • 32:33

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: My specific interest, my primary interest,is in interpersonal cooperation and how to encourage peopleto work together for the collective good, especiallywhen there's not really a very good personal incentiveto do so.So for example, if we see the reduction of air pollutionas a collective endeavour, so we need to work together to walk

    • 32:57

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: or bicycle or carpool or take public transportationor whatever, individually engaging in those actions isa bit of a sacrifice.If you have to wait on the bus, if you have to bicycle,that can be unpleasant.It can be dangerous in certain places.If you're going to carpool, then you're reliant on somebody elseto get you where you need to go.Same is true for public transportation.

    • 33:19

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: It is a bit of a sacrifice.You don't have as much flexibility and freedomas if you drive yourself.But if all of us were to be more cooperative in termsof relying upon alternative forms of transportation,then we could minimize automobile emissions.That would help clean the air or at least

    • 33:39

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: reduce smog in the air.It would help reduce or at least level offcarbon emissions, which relates to climate change, and so on.So for myself, working on issues of cooperationand being especially motivated to apply themto these very real issues-- so climate change, water

    • 33:59

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: conservation.In many parts of the US, we are under drought conditions.People have to cut back on their water use,can't wash their car, can't water the lawn,can't have flower gardens, things like that.And those things are trivial, certainly.I mean, having a clean car is not a hugely important thing,but a lot of people like it.

    • 34:19

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: But having drinkable water is more critical.And so we need to be able to encourage people to say,I'll have a dirty car.I'll have a crunchy brown lawn.I won't grow flowers.Because we don't have very much water available right now,and we really need to save it for those critical uses

    • 34:40

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: of drinking and bathing and cleaning our dishes,things like that.Group dynamics in general, I think,has much potential to help societywith a variety of those kinds of problems,be it these resource-consumptive ones, climate changeones, better performance in the workplace,

    • 35:01

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: the example I've given a few times here.Improving the functioning of juries, perhaps?Not that juries are out of controlor making bad decisions all the time,but rather helping the jury to beable to better objectively process evidence, notbe persuaded or dissuaded by a lot of the seemingly

    • 35:24

      CRAIG D. PARKS [continued]: irrelevant things that happen in the courtroom.That's a very important function.Helping student teams do better with things.So we have a lot of ability to reallyhelp improve the daily functioning in a lot of areas.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Craig Parks Discusses Group Dynamics

View Segments Segment :

Abstract

Professor Craig Parks discusses his work in group dynamics. He recommends materials for students, talks about the application of group dynamics in business management, and highlights the challenges of research in this field.

SAGE Video Experts
Craig Parks Discusses Group Dynamics

Professor Craig Parks discusses his work in group dynamics. He recommends materials for students, talks about the application of group dynamics in business management, and highlights the challenges of research in this field.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website

Back to Top