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Group Processes, group judgments, and group decisions

Section: G-I-transfer and group coordination (DFG project)

Important judgments and decisions in politics, economy, and science are often made by groups rather than individuals. Therefore, it is of critical interest to know when groups are actually superior decision-makers and which group-specific processes influence the quality of judgments and decisions in groups. Our research project aims to identify and study both group processes that are detrimental to group performance and those that enhance it. Here, we distinguish processes that affect group members’ motivation from processes that change their ability to perform the task and processes that influence coordination within the groups. Based on our investigations, we hope to gain important insights into cooperation within groups, which will ultimately serve as the basis for the development of interventions aiming to improve the quality of judgments and decision in groups. 


Section: Advice taking in groups (DFG project)

Groups frequently consult expert advisors when making important decisions. In fact, such expert advice can greatly improve the quality of judgments and decisions. However, it is currently debated to what extent groups are able to use advice effectively, and whether certain group-specific processes have an impact on how much groups follow external advice. We address these questions in our research project by examining whether and how groups of different sizes differ from individuals in terms of how they use external advice.


Section: Emergence of leadership (DFG project)

When groups work together, you often observe someone taking the lead, although there is no predefined leader role. Research on “emergence of leadership” seeks to identify the factors that determine who will become a leader in a group. Past research focused mostly on the emergent leader while neglecting whether his leadership attempt was successful, i.e. he was actually followed by the other group members. This research area aims at investigating factors which are predictive of leadership emergence on the one hand and followership on the other hand. In our studies, we assess a broad range of predictors, including inter-individual differences as well as behavioral styles.

This project is part of the Research Training Group 2070 Understanding Social Relationships collaborating with the German Primate Center.



Section: Process losses and process gains during negotiations (DFG project)

‘Process losses and process gains during negotiations’ is a research project in collaboration with Leuphana University Lüneburg (Prof. Dr. Roman Trötschel und Marco Warsitzka, M.A.). Within the scope of this project the role of social interaction in bargaining situations will be analyzed. Former negotiation research suggests that negotiating generally leads to better outcomes for both parties. However, group research shows that social interaction can often lead to process losses. Against this background, several variables (such as the characteristics of the bargaining situation, negotiation targets and cognitive frames) will be manipulated in order to investigate conditions under which process losses vs. process gains can be observed. For this purpose, real negotiation groups will be compared to nominal groups that do not interact socially, thereby combining group research and negotiation research. Significant differences between real and nominal groups indicate either a process loss or a process gain.



Tax psychology

The state depends on the tax compliance of citizens to finance public goods such as education or infrastructure. The aim of tax psychological research is to understand the psychological determinants that explain and predict tax compliance of individuals and entrepreneurs. Important determinants are audits and fines, legitimate procedures, fairness, trust or social identity. At the moment, we conduct the following two projects at the Department of Economic and Social Psychology: Tax compliance of the wealthy and tax compliance of groups. In the first project, we examine whether tax compliance determinants differ between wealthy individuals and individuals with an average income. The Panama papers, Paradise papers or the CUM-Ex case indicate that wealthy individuals might have a different perception of the tax system compared to other individuals which in turn might influence their tax compliance behavior. In the second project, we analyze group processes, which might play a role when the tax decision is not taken by one but by several individuals (e.g., two business partners). In both projects, theoretical and empirical work, based on qualitative interviews, survey studies and field and laboratory experiments is conducted. Results should offer practical ideas how to increase honest taxpaying in our society.


Interdisciplinary research project „Escalation research in the communication of large-scale infrastructure and construction projects”

Sub-project social psychology: Perception and interpretation of factual information regarding conflicts by affected and involved individuals

Focus of the interdisciplinary research group in Lower Saxony: This project brings researchers of various fields from the universities of Brunswick, Göttingen and Hanover together. Since October 2014, this research group has committed itself to identifying conditions that either contribute to the escalation of conflicts during the initial determination, planning and implementation of large-scale projects or lead to a peaceful and consensual progress of these projects (whether the project is realized as planned, with modifications or not at all). With our independent research we aim at contributing to an optimized dialogue process for all those involved.

Focus of the sub-project social psychology: An important determinant of escalating disputes concerning infrastructure and construction projects is that they are usually not (or not adequately) resolved by supposedly clarifying factual information such as expert’s reports. We are interested in processing and evaluation of factual information by the people affected by and/or involved in such projects. With our research we aim to determine how these processes can be optimally designed in the context of communication regarding large-scale infrastructure and construction projects.

The project is funded by the “Niedersächsische Vorab”-program of the Volkswagen foundation. Find more information about the program here.