Research Summary

Perceiving Groups and Collaborative Potential (w/ Jeff Polzer, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan)

by Patricia Satterstrom


Collaboration is fraught with difficulty as people strive to achieve collective and individual goals. One source of difficulty is that some specific pairs of individuals are simply not compatible along one or more relevant dimensions, even though each of the individuals may work well with others. Part of the challenge, then, is to accurately predict whether particular individuals will work together effectively before they attempt to collaborate. This is a common challenge faced by managers, coaches, teachers and others who regularly decide which people to pair up or group together. Yet, work on how people evaluate the potential effectiveness of a collaboration is very limited. In this study we compare Complementarity Theory using behavioral dominance cues with Status Characteristics Theory using demographic characteristics. We explore the nonverbal cues that influence people’s perceptions of whether others will collaborate effectively.