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Effects of Group Inequality on Perceived Group Processes and Individual Outcomes

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Title: Effects of Group Inequality on Perceived Group Processes and Individual Outcomes
Author: van der Werf, Daniel
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Son Hing, Leanne S.
Abstract: Research suggests that inequality in society and inequality in the workplace has negative consequences for individual’s health and well-being. The effect of inequality within smaller groups is less clear. I hypothesized that individuals’ perceptions of excessive inequality within a student group would lead to increased stress, decreased evaluation of group and deceased performance, and that group cohesion, conflict, and potency would mediate some of these relationships. Inequality was operationalized as individuals’ perceptions of too much difference in power, status, and affiliation. I tested the hypotheses with 113 undergraduate students working in four-person groups in an organizational psychology class. Perceptions of excessive inequality were positively related to individuals’ stress and performance, and negatively related to their evaluation of group. Individuals’ perceptions of group cohesion mediated the relationship between inequality and evaluation of group. If perceptions of inequality between group members can be reduced, important group processes and individual outcomes could be improved.
Date: 2013-10
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