Group formation in a simulated scavenger hunt: How big and diverse should a successful group be?

W. Andrew Harrell1
1University of Alberta, Canada
Cite this article:  Harrell, W. (2007). Group formation in a simulated scavenger hunt: How big and diverse should a successful group be?. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 35, 31-40.

Volume 35 Issue 1 | e1555 | Published: February 2007 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2007.35.1.31

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Male and female university students (121) received 1 of 8 scenarios describing a hypothetical scavenger hunt. Subjects could form a group to assist them in the hunt or work alone. Groups could be homogeneous or diverse in terms of gender, age, and familiarity. Completion of the task would result in a prize of $1,000. Subjects indicated how this payoff would be distributed to the group. Twenty minutes or 90 minutes were given to find the designated objects. Their task was also varied in terms of the number of items that needed to be discovered (4 items or 8 items) and whether or not these items were locally available (on the campus of the university they attended) or were geographically dispersed throughout the surrounding city. Subjects engaged in a two-stage decision process. In the first stage, a decision was made concerning the size of the group formed (if any) and its homogeneity or diversity in membership. Larger groups were chosen when 8 versus 4 items were gathered and when the items were geographically dispersed. Groups tended to be more diverse when items were dispersed rather than locally concentrated and when time was short (20 minutes). Payoff division was a second-stage decision. Equity versus equality in distribution was more likely to occur when groups were large and diverse in membership.

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