I am going to talk about two stories that I found relatable to the lectures on group processes.
The first is a very personal story, and one that is still sour when I think about it. I play volleyball at Yale and while I am tall, I am certainly not the most talented. I could not help but think about the social facilitation model while I was playing last night. In one of the games I was playing it was very close and it was down to the winning point. I could win the game and I was up to serve. Everyone was looking at me, and I felt immense pressure to follow through. There was certainly presence of others, and certainly arousal, the only thing left was to see what my dominant response would be. As I am sure you can guess from my admission earlier to my lack of talent at volleyball, my dominant response was to mess up the serve. I overthought it, and I hit it straight into the net. Luckily we did not lose as it was game point for us, but we still had a lead on the other team. I sheepishly returned to the game and kept playing. The other side did not have the ball for long and soon enough we were able to get the ball back, but it was now tied up. We had to win by two. Luckily for us though, the next person in our rotation to serve was the captain of the Yale Men’s Club Volleyball team. Presence of others check, arousal certainly, and now just to see the dominant response. He did a jump serve and aced it. Then he served again and it was another ace. His dominant response was an incredible feat of volleyball, unlike my dominant response of failure in this situation. What was most interesting to me is that when we kept playing in the next game, I actually made more serves in than he did. It was just that we were not operating under the same pressures. Instead of operating under the social facilitation model, it was the social loafing model. I was more relaxed in more serve as it mattered less, and had better results. He on the other hand cared less about the serve, and so he did not try as hard and it suffered.
The second story applies to the Malcolm Gladwell story of Korean pilots which I believe is a perfect example of classic Groupthink. He asserts that their culture of prioritizing unity is what led to their crashes versus the more individualistic cultures of the United States and other more individualistic cultures. Here is a situation that checks off every box of groupthink, it is a homogenious and cohesive group focused on unity, the pilot and co-pilot are isolated, and they are in a very stressful situation. Gladwell documented a number of crashes by Korean Air and accounted them simply to the cultural priority of unity and differing to the superior, but he missed the rest of the context as well. He did not take into consideration the isolation or stress of the situation. Knowing what I know now about groupthink, it is no wonder that these crisis situations ended in disaster.