Social representation theory studies social knowledge created by groups which becomes objectified, as if it existed outside of social processes. In this paper, some new themes and directions for social representation research are discussed. Overall, it is suggested that more emphasis be placed back onto the group dynamics which create, change and maintain social representations. Too much emphasis, perhaps, has been put on finding and describing the objectified knowledges rather than the social processes which sustain them. In particular, more needs to be known about the groups themselves which create and maintain social representations, and the conditions for such groups' existence. The methods for research need to reflect the social processes over time and anthropological methods of research might help in this regard. It is then argued both that social relations are a prerequisite for social representations and that social representations can be utilized by groups for various functions. Both these points emphasize that social representations exist through, and are maintained by, group dynamics, which need to be studied in addition to descriptions of the content of social representations.
Bernard Guerin has conducted an insightful and constructive criticism of the current state of social representations research, and pointed to future directions, emphasizing the importance of resource exchange and power process. While agreeing with his general point, this paper attempts to situate Guerin's discussion within the metatheoretical structure concerning the questions about superstructure versus base, intended versus unintended consequences of social action, and metaphysics of social representation. The paper emphasizes the importance of examining the interplay between social representation and resource exchange, and joins Guerin in a call to explore creative methods for studying its dynamics.
Despite the popular belief that group of individuals brainstorming together can generate more and better ideas than individuals brainstorming alone, many empirical studies have found that the productivity of interacting groups is inferior to the combined output of an equal number of people brainstorming alone, in terms of both the quantity and quality of ideas. We hypothesized that members of interacting groups may focus on the total group product and derive an inflated sense of accomplishment compared with individual brainstormers who only perceive their individual product. We expected that providing a standard of productivity for interacting (brainstorming) groups would reduce productivity loss. We conducted an experiment using a 3×2 factorial design with group size (singleperson, 2-person, and 4-person group) and standard condition (standard vs. no standard) as independent variables. The topic for brainstorming was the practical benefits and difficulties that would arise if everyone after 1991 had an extra thumb on each hand. Our results suggest that even though individuals in interactive groups produce relatively fewer ideas, they perceive their performance more positively than individuals in nominal groups. However, while misperception of task performance does occur in group settings, it does not account completely for productivity loss in brainstorming groups.
Separate effects of received and exerted interpersonal influence on individuals' persistence in voluntary behaviors were examined. Eighty male subjects, four at a time, participated in the study as their one-day paid work. Pairs of subjects observed five tourist sites from the windows of a train and evaluated them through discussion. Exerted and received influence was measured in terms of changes in preferences for these sites before and after interactions with a partner. Persistence was measured by whether and how long subjects pursued a voluntary task up to two weeks after the day of work. Results indicated that received and exerted influence, which were not significantly correlated with each other, can predict the persistence. Furthermore, combined influence (i. e., the total amount of these two types of influence) was shown to be the strongest predictive variable for persistence. Implications for strengthening persistence through group settings are discussed.
This study investigated the effect of gender salience, gender group membership, and independent/interdependent construals of self on self-defining strategies based on the research framework of Lorenzi-Cioldi (1991). Hypotheses were as follows. (1) self-stereotyping strategies tend to be employed under conditions of salient gender categories, while selfenhancement strategies defining self in positive terms will be mainly employed under conditions of salient individual differences. (2-a) Among self-stereotyping strategies, women, as dominated group-members, employ a gender-schema strategy processing male and female bipolarily, and (2-b) men, members of the dominant group, employ a self-schema strategy processing either male or female unipolarily. (3-a) Those with an interdependent construal of self, whose self is fundamentally connected with relevant others, employ a gender-schemata strategy that requires information on other groups, while (3-b) those with an independent construal of self, whose self is an autonomous entity independent of others, employ a selfschema strategy that does not require information on other groups. A test, measuring the response latencies of 79 subjects in self-descriptions on the BSRI (Bern, 1974) attributes was conducted, and showed support for hypotheses 2-a and 3-a, but since it evidenced no use of self-schema, hypotheses 2-b and 3-b were not supported. Since the effect of gender salience was not seen, hypothesis 1 was not supported. Considerations are offered as to experimental procedures and cultural differences.