chapter  2
34 Pages

Group Dynamics

Groups present a paradox. On the one hand, research has shown that when working on a task in isolation, groups tend to outperform individuals. In the seminal study of this nature conducted by Marjorie Shaw in 1932, groups of four people and individuals were asked to solve the well-known missionarycannibal dilemma.1 In this problem, three missionaries and three cannibals are sitting on one side of the river and want to cross it using a boat that can only hold two people at a time. All the missionaries and only one cannibal can row, and for obvious reasons at no time can the cannibals outnumber the

missionaries. Shaw found that the groups generated more correct solutions than the individuals working alone, and generally displayed superior problemsolving skills.