Social Motivation, Amongst Other Notes

Albanese, Robert, & van Fleet, David D. (1985). Rational Behavior in Groups: The Free-Riding Tendency. The Academy of Management Review 10(2):244-255.

Beins, B.C. (2002). Technology in the classroom: Traditions in psychology. In S. Davis & W.Buskist (Eds.). The teaching of psychology: Essays in honor of William J. McKeachie and Charles Brewer. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. (pp. 307-321)

Fass, Paula. Testing the IQ of Children.

Fels, Rendigs. (1993). This is what I do, and I like it. The Journal of Economic Education 24(4):365-370.

Leuthold, Jane H. (1993). A Free Rider Experiment for the Large Class. The Journal of Economic Education 24(4):353-363.

Slavin, Robert E. (1996). Research on Cooperative Learning and Achievement: What We Know, What We Need to Know. Contemporary Educational Psychology 21(1):43-69.

Slavin, Robert E. (1999). Comprehensive Approaches to Cooperative Learning. Theory into Practice 38(2):74-79.

Taylor, M.C.(1996). Creating global classrooms. In J.K. Roth (Ed.) Inspiring Teaching: Carnegie Professors of the Year Speak. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc. (pp. 134-145).

In a recent comment, Mark of ZenPundit tipped me off to Robert Slavin, an education researcher who emphasizes group goals and individual accountability. Some other tips were read, as well:

The studies that examined the role of task variables indirectly support the counterforces proposition. Making tasks identifiable, difficult, and/or unique (Harkins & Petty, 1982) or altering the nature of the task (Kerr & Brunn, 1983) basically changes the incentive system fro a group member. In general, such actions enhance the intrinsic satisfaction a group member receives from contributing to the group’s public good. This intrinsic satisfaction is, in effect, a special incentive or private good the group member receives for contributing to the group’s public good, and it serves to decrease the likelihood of free riding. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Besides some other articles which I am required to read, most of this batch of notes deals with free-riding, accountability, and other similar issues. Many of the articles can be found on JSTOR


Nevertheless, it often is true that people acting rationally, try to minimize their costs relative to the benefits they receive. Free-rider theory (Olson, 1965) explains how this tendency operates to affect group formation and individual productivity in groups. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 244)

Stigler states the basic free-rider problem as follows: “In a wide range of situations, individuals will fail to participate in collectively profitable activities in the absence of coercion or individually appropriate inducements (1974, 359). (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 244)

Free-rider theory assumes that individuals (1) are the actors in social situations, (2) share homogeneous value systems, similar information, and similar perceptions of reality, and (3) act rationally. Rationality means that an individual has an ordered set of preferences defined by the individual’s selfish interests and when free to do so will choose behaviors efficacious for achieving those preferences. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 244-245)

The distinction between private and public goods is central to free-rider theory (Buchanan & Tullock, 1962; Olson, 1965; Samuelson, 1954). A good is anything tangible or intangible that satisfies an individual’s needs or desires. Goods can be differentiated by their degree of excludability. In a group, a private good is one for which it is feasible or economic to exclude one or more group members… A public good is one for which it is not feasible or economic to exclude one or more group members. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 246)

One way to assure provision of public goods in large groups is through coercion and/or special incentives. Coercion is any form of influence or persuasion that tends to force the provision of public goods by a a group… Special incentives include increased shares in the public good and various individual incentives, such as personal recognition, a bonus, and so on. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 247)

An identifiable task is one for which the output of an individual can be identified with that particular individual. Studies reporting “social loafing” effects used nonidentifiable tasks (Harkins, Latane, & Williams, 1980; Latane, Williams, & Harkins, 1979). Subsequent research by Harkins and Petty (1982) suggests social loafing effects cna be eliminated by making tasks identifiable. However, even when tasks are nonidentifiable, social loafing may not occur if subjects perceive tasks to be difficult or unique (Harkins & Petty, 1982). (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 248)

A study by Kerry and Brunn (1983) suggests that the task type affects group members performance. High-ability group members exerted less effort with increasing group size on a conjunctive task, a group task for which the group product is limited by the contribution of the least capable member (Steiner, 1972). Low-ability group members exerted less effort with increasing the group size on a disjunctive task, a task in which the group product is confined to the contribution of the most capable member (Ingham, Levinger, Graves, & Peckham, 1974; Steiner, 1972). (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 248)

Orbell and Dawes (1981) refer to the role of a group member who carries free riders as the “sucker role.” When a group member reduces efforts rather than play the sucker role, the effort reduction is referred to as the “sucker effect” (Kerry, 1983). The sucker effect may arise from incorrect attributions abotu the extent of free riding in a group. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Altruistic motives may reduce the likelihood and degree of free-riding, but they do not eliminate it. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Social information processing theory (Griffin, 1983; Salancik & Preffer, 1978) suggests that social cues from respected co-workers or supervisors about task characteristics may cause a group member to perceive a task as unique. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Yandell, Lonnie. (2002) Web-based resources. In S. Davis & W.Buskist (Eds.). The teaching of psychology: Essays in honor of William J. McKeachie and Charles Brewer. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. (pp. 295-305).

Thorndike was among the first to imply that if we were to alter the process of instruction, the outcome would differ. In what we might now see as a prophetic utterance, he asserted that if “by some mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, … much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print” (Thorndike, 1912, p. 165). (Beins, 2002, 308)

For example, Gaskill (1933) may have been the first teacher to usher in a form of distance learning. He presented two lectures over the radio; they involved what we would probably now call sports psychology. However, radio did not reappear in the literature as a medium of tutelage for 35 years (Snyder, Greer, & Snyder, 1968). Television broadcasts began as the beginning of the 1950s (Barden, 1951), and even teh telephone served as a teaching tool (Cutler, McKeachie, & McNeil, 1958). (Beins, 2002, 310)

“Instead of producing revolution, interactive courseware has produced barely a ripple on the stagnant surface of the instructional program. But the courseware mirage still beckons” (Ehrmann, 2000, pg. 44). (Beins, 2002, 315)

One of the newest approaches, Just in Time Teaching (JiTT), gives a good illustration of how to maximize what the student, teacher, and computer can achieve in combination… Using this approach, instructors pose questions or offer other preparatory assignments that students have to complete and submit within a few hours of the class meeting. The instructor reads the student responses prior to class and uses their ideas to structure class time. (Biens, 2002, 318)

Progressive social reformers hoped to use education to revitalize democracy through the reconstruction fo the elements of individual political responsibility. (Fass, 307)

The science that had the most profound effect on educational practice as psychology, a hybrid calling which was part biology, part philosophy, and in good part linked with the evolving profession of education. (Fass, 307)

What had begun as a way of eliminating the feebleminded, proceeded to a ranking of individuals according to talent, and finally became a means for ordering a hierarchy of groups. (Fass, 309)

Chamberlin reported using classroom games or experiments for teaching purposes as long ago as 1948. (Fels, 1993, 365)

Universities are based on the principle that teaching and research go together. (Fels, 1993, 365)

At the other extreme, a poor lecturer with low ratings on student evaluation questionnaires could pep up a course with these games. (Fels, 1993, 365)

Free riders are those who enjoy the benefits of a public good without contributing to the costs of providing it. Because it is impossible, or highly expensive, to exclude people from the benefits of a public gone once it is produced, consumers have an incentive to free ride” on the contributions of others. The presence of free riders can lead to the underrepresentation of preferences for the public good and, hence, to its underprovision. (Leuthold, 1993, 353)

Rosen (1992, 76) stresses that free ridership is not a fact, but a hypothesis. (Leuthold, 1993, 353)

Asch and Gigliotti (1991, 33) are also concerned that the standard treatment of free riding behavior as “rational” is ethically questionable. They believe that economists often ignore such noneconomic motivation as sense of commitment or morality. Other motivations for voluntary behavior that have been suggested in the literature include “a desire to win prestige, respect, friendship, and other social and psychological objectives” (Olson, 1965, 60) or “a desire to avoid the scorn of others or to receive social acclaim” (Becker, 1974, 1083). Andreoni (1990, 464) identifies the desire for a “warm glow” as a possible influence on behavior. (Leuthold, 1993, 353)

However, when Isaac and Walker (1988) tested the effect of group size on free riding in an experimental setting, they got mixed results, with small groups being more cooperative in some situations but less cooperative in others. (Leuthold, 1993, 354)

Experimental economics can provide interesting and profound insights into many types of economic behavior. Used in the classroom experiments stimulate student interest and involve students actively in the learning process. Involved students tend to be more attentive, have a more positive attitude toward the subject, and have higher self-esteem because they have more control over their own learning. The free rider experiment described here was specifically designed to bring active learning to the large classroom. It could, of course, be conveniently used in the small classroom as well. (Leuthold, 1993, 361-362).

From a motivationalist perspective (e.g., Johnson & Johnson, 1992; Slavin, 1983a, b, 1995), cooperative incentive structures create a situation in which the only way group members can attain their own personal goals is if the group is successful. Therefore, to meet their personal goals, group members must both help their groupmates to do whatever helps the group to succeed, and, perhaps even more importantly, to encourage their groupmates to exert maximum efforts. In other words, rewarding groups based on group performance (or the sum of individual performances) creates an interpersonal reward structure in which group members will give or withhold social reinforcers (e.g., praise, encouragement) in response to groupmates’ task-related efforts (see Slavin, 1983a)… students to encourage goaldirected behaviors among their groupmates (Slavin, 1983a, b; 1995). A substantial literature in the behavior modification tradition has found that group contingencies can be very effective at improving students’ appropriate behaviors and achievement (Hayes, 1976; Litow & Pumroy, 1975). (Slavin, 1996)

The motivationalist critique of traditional classroom organization holds that the competitive grading and informal reward system of the classroom creates peer norms opposing academic efforts (see Coleman, 1961). Since one student’s success decreases the chances that others will succeed, students are likely to express norms that high achievement is for “nerds” or teachers’ pets. Such work restriction norms are familiar in industry, where the “rate buster” is scorned by his or her fellow workers (Vroom, 1969). (Slavin, 1996)

Use of group goals or group rewards enhances the achievement outcomes of cooperative learning if and only if the group rewards are based on the individual learning of all group members (Slavin, 1995). Most often, this means that team scores are computed based on average scores on quizzes which all teammates take individually, without teammate help. (Slavin, 1996)

Comparisons of alternative treatments within the same studies found similar patterns; group goals based on the sum of individual learning performances were necessary to the instructional effectiveness of the cooperative learning models (e.g., Fantuzzo, Polite, & Grayson, 1990; Fantuzzo, Riggio, Connelly, & Dimeff, 1989; Huber, Bogatzki, & Winter, 1982). (Slavin, 1996)

However, motivational theorists hold that students help their groupmates learn at least in part because it is in their own interests to do so. Social cohesion theorists, in contrast, emphasize the idea that students help their groupmates learn because they care about the group. A hallmark of the social cohesion perspective is an emphasis on teambuilding activities in preparation for cooperative learning, and processing or group self-evaluation during and after group activities. Social cohesion theorists tend to downplay or reject the group incentives and individual accountability held by motivationalist researchers to be essential. For example, Cohen (1986, pp. 69-70) states “if the task is challenging and interesting, and if students are sufficiently prepared for skills in group process, students will experience the process of groupwork itself as highly rewarding…never grade or evaluate students on their individual contributions to the group product.” (Slavin, 1996) [this seems crazy — tdaxp]

In general, methods which emphasize teambuilding and group process but do not provide specific group rewards based on the learning of all group members are no more effective than traditional instruction in increasing achievement (Slavin, 1995), although there is evidence that these methods can be effective if group rewards are added to them. (Slavin, 1996)

One widely researched set of cognitive theories is the developmental perspective (e.g., Damon, 1984; Murray, 1982). The fundamental assumption of the developmental perspective on cooperative learning is that interaction among children around appropriate tasks increases their mastery of critical concepts. (Slavin, 1996)

There is a great deal of empirical support for the idea that peer interaction can help non-conservers become conservers. Many studies have shown that when conservers and nonconservers of about the same age work collaboratively on tasks requiring conservation, the nonconservers generally develop and maintain conservation concepts (see Bell, Grossen, and Perret-Clermont, 1985; Murray, 1982; Perret-Clermont, 1980). (Slavin, 1996)

The importance of peers’ operating in one anothers’ proximal zones of development was demonstrated by Kuhn (1972), who found that a small difference in cognitive level between a child and a social model was more conducive to cognitive growth than a larger difference. (Slavin, 1996)

However, Damon (1984, p.337) explicitly rejects the use of “extrinsic incentives as part of the group learning situation,” arguing that “there is no compelling reason to believe that such inducements are an important ingredient in peer learning.” (Slavin, 1996)

As noted earlier, reviewers of the cooperative learning literature have long concluded that cooperative learning has its greatest effects on student learning when groups are recognized or rewarded based on individual learning of their members (Slavin, 1983a, 1983b, 1989, 1992, 1995; Ellis & Fouts, 1993; Newmann & Thompson, 1987; Manning & Lucking, 1991; Davidson, 1985; Mergendoller & Packer, 1989). (Slavin, 1996)

In groups lacking individual accountability, one or two students may do the group’s work, while others engage in “social loafing” (Latane, Williams, & Harkins, 1979). (Slavin, 1996)

A comparison among Learning Together studies (Johnson & Johnson, 1989) also supports the same conclusions. Across eight studies of Learning Together methods in which students were rewarded based on a single worksheet or product, the median effect size was near zero (+.04). However, among four studies that evaluated forms of the program in which students were graded based on the average performance of all group members on individual assessments, three found significantly positive effects. (Slavin, 1996)

Several studies have focused on the question of which students gain the most from cooperative learning. One particularly important question relates to whether cooperative learning is beneficial to students at all levels of prior achievement. It would be possible to argue (see, for example, Allan, 1991; Robinson, 1990) that high achievers could be held back by having to explain material to theirlow-achieving groupmates. However, it would be equally possible to argue that because students who give elaborated explanations typically learn more than those who receive them (Webb, 1992), high achievers should be the students who benefit most from cooperative learning because they give the most frequent elaborated explanations. The evidence from experimental studies that met the inclusion criteria for this review support neither position. A few studies found better outcomes for high achievers than for low and a few found that low achievers gained the most (see Slavin, 1995). Most, however, found equal benefits for high, average, and low achievers in comparison to their counterparts in control groups. (Slavin, 1996)

One category of tasks that may not require group goals and individual accountability is tasks in which it is likely that students will benefit by hearing others thinking aloud. This is the classic Vygotskian paradigm; students in collaborating groups make overt their private speech, giving peers operating at a slightly lower cognitive level on a given task a stepping stone to understanding and incorporating higher-quality solutions in their own private speech (see Bershon, 1992). Tasks of this kind would be ones at a very high level of cognitive complexity but without a well-defined path to a solution or a single correct answer, especially tasks on which there are likely to be differences of opinion. For such tasks, the process of participating in arguments or even of listening to others argue and justify their opinions or solutions may be enough to enhance learning, even if no teaching, explanation, or assessment goes on within the group. Perhaps the best classroom evidence on this type of task is from Johnson and Johnson’s (1979) studies of structured controversy, in which students argue both sides of a controversial issue using a structured method of argumentation. (Slavin, 1996)

As in the case of controversial tasks without single correct answers, there is evidence that adding group rewards to structured dyadic tasks enhances the effects of these strategies. Fantuzzo, Polite, & Grayson (1990) evaluated a dyadic study strategy called Reciprocal Peer Tutoring. A simple pair study format did not increase student arithmetic achievement, but when successful dyads were awarded stickers and classroom privileges, their achievement markedly increased. (Slavin, 1996)

individual learning of all group members, and feel that it is unnecessary and cumbersome to do so. Widespread reluctance to use extrinsic incentives, based in part on a misreading of research on the “undermining” effects of rewards on long-term motivation (Cameron & Pierce, 1994) has contributed to many educators’ reluctance to use group rewards. (Slavin, 1996)

Cooperative learning is one of the greatest success stories in the history of educational innovation. Almost unknown in the mid-1970s, cooperative learning strategies are now so common-place that they are often seen as a standard part of educational practice, not as an innovation. One national survey (Puma, Jones, Rock, & Fernandez, 1993) found that 79 percent of third grade teachers and 62 percent of seventh grade teachers reported making regular, sustained use of cooperative learning strategies. (Slavin, 1999, 74)

Research on teh achievement effects of cooperative learning emphasizes the importance of group goals and individual accountability (e.g., Davidson, 1985; Slavin, 1995). Yet observational studies of teachers using cooperative methods find that most are using informal versions of the model, typically lacking group goals and individual accountability. This “group work” creates the danger that one child can do the work for the whole group, that some children will take the “thinking rolee” in group activities while others take clerical or passive roles, or that some children may be ignored or shut out of the group activitity, especially if they are perceived to be low achievers (see, for example, Cohen, 1994). (Slavin, 1999,74)

The emergence of electronic and tellecommunications technologies is not only changing what we teach but is transforming how we think, write, and communicate. (Taylor, 1996, 134)

While many nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophers accept Kant’s criticism of the notion of the mind as a blank slate upon which the data of experience are directly imprinted, they remain suspicious of his claims for the universality of our mental apparatus. From Hegel and Nietzsche to Heidegger and Sartre, philosophers insist that systems of knowledge are physcologically, socially, historically, and culturally relative. While the mind might be preprogrammed, it is not necessarily hardwired. (Taylor, 1996, 135-136)

Whlie personal and cultural differences can, of course, be enriching, they can also generate conflict. (Taylor, 1996, 137)

One of the most common uses of teleconferencing by universities is for distance learning in which communication tends to be one-way and non-interactive. It is obvious that in this kind of extended classroom or lecture hall, contact between teacher and student is difficult if not impossible. (Taylor, 1996, 139-140)

In addition to increasing contact among seminar participants, the electronci environment influenced the teacher-student relation in another important way. Students were much more willing to take the lead in discussions than in any other class I have taught. While the initial impulse to contribute might have been the result of the desire to see themselves on screen, students quickly overcame their exhibitionist impulses and became serious participants in a sustained dialogue. (Taylor, 1996, 140)

Not only did they [graduate students] devise effective laboratory sessions adn write clear procedures and instructions; they also repeated the gesture of uniting theory and practice or form and content by creating a hypertextual multimedia lab manual. (Taylor, 1996, 143)

Having given by research asssistants the opportunity to teach what they had designed, I elected not to attend any of the laboratory sessions… I was beginning to suspect that these technologies create new possibilities for nonhierarchical relationships in which the line separating students and teacherse becomes obscure. (Taylor, 1996, 143)

More faculty are choosing to integrate Web resources into their teaching, and many more teachers are beging encouraged to do so. (Yandell, 2002, 296)

Brown (2000) sugested three aditional positive aspects of the Web. He pointed out that the Web is a “two way push and pull” media (p. 12)… He also observed that the Web is the “first media that honors the notion of multiple intelligences — abstract, textual, visual, musical, social, and kinesthitic… He also suggested that the Web has the distinct advantage of being able to “leverage the small effort sof hte many with the large efforts of the few” (Yandell, 2002, 303)

Learning Evolved, Part IV: Bibliography

The last part of this series is for future reference, and for you to verify the sources I have used. The format is more-or-less APA style, but I make no claims for stylistic competence.

The A’s:

Alford, J. & Hibbing, J. (2004) .The Origin of Politics: An Evolutionary Theory of Political Behavior. Perspectives on Politics, 2(4), 707-723
Alford, J., Funk, C., & Hibbing, J. (2005) Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted? American Political Science Review, 99(2), 154-168.
Alford, J., & Hibbing, J. (2006). The Neural Basis of Representative Democracy. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

The B’s through Z’s are below the fold:


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Buller, D.J. (2005). Adapting Minds. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
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Carmen, I. (2006). Genetic Configurations of Political Phenomena: New Theories, New Methods. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.
Capsi, A., et al. (2003). Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene. Science. Vol. 301 No. 5631 pp. 386-289.
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Fowler, J. (2006). Altruism and Turnout, The Journal of Politics, Vol. 68 No. 3, pp 674-683.
Fowler, J., Baker, L., & Dawes, C. (2006). The Genetic Basics of Political Cooperation. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.
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Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple Intelligences After Twenty Years. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association.
Gilbert, A., Regier, T., Kay, P., & Ivry, R. (2005). Whorf hypothesis is supported in the right visual field but not the left. PNAS, 103(2), 389-494.
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Jervis, R. (2004). The Implications of Prospect Theory for Human Nature and Values. Political Psychology, 25(2), 163-176.
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Learning Evolved, a companion series to Classroom Democracy
1. Darwinism-Cognitivism
2. Social Motivation
3. Coalitionary Education
4. Bibliography

Blogospheric Reaction to tdaxp’s Psychology kick

As I look at my blog’s front page, I’m struck that every post is “psychologically,” and filed either under Child Psychology, Genetic Polics. Hmm…

Whatever the deeper meaning of that, my two most recent series — Classroom Democracy and Learning Evolved — have received some very kind and insightful comments from fellow bloggers. Among others:

  • Education Wonk kindly liked the parliamentary democracy angle enough to include me on Carnival of Education LXXXVIII.
  • Christian Soldiers finds a lot to like from his experience teaching computer science
  • Blunt Object looks at applying evolutionary educational psychology on yourself
  • ZenPundit gives props to Learning Evolved, Introduction through Part II, though quietly avoids referencing Part III or the original Classroom Democracy series. This raises the question: is Mark a commie spy?
  • Lastly, Edgewise is interested in other recent psychology posts.

    Now if I could just follow Curtis’ suggestion and tie this into 5GW…. Hmmm…