Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Karau, Steve

Abstract

The nonconscious processing of the mind is a prevalently studied body of research in the social psychology literature. The central focus assesses how priming of stimuli is able to activate trait concepts within the mind thus leading to cognitive and behavioral changes outside of the individuals' awareness or intent. Unfortunately, management scholars have failed to use this methodology to study organizational phenomenon. As such, it is the purpose of this research to apply a nonconscious thought processing lens to one of management's most studied areas, group processes. This dissertation proposes a model that accounts for the influence of priming on group processes. We conducted two studies measuring expectations regarding a specific work group (Study 1) and perceptions of group processes and performance on a group task (Study 2). To accomplish this, we utilized two priming techniques: subliminal (Study 1) and mindful (Study 2) to assess the influence of these nonconscious processes. In order to test our model, we used ANOVAs (Study 1) and ANCOVAs (Study 2) to measure the impact of priming on our dependent measures. We found the predicted results that priming is able to directly influence both expectations about groups and various group processes (i.e. group cohesion, group credibility, group coordination, and perceived loafing) during the performance of an actual group task as well as group performance (i.e. actual group behavior). Such results provide initial evidence that nonconscious processes can influence the expectations and performance of individual's to be more productive while working in groups. Most importantly, these results show that these changes can be made without the individual's awareness. Theoretically, these results provide additional support for organizational behavior scholars to include more nonconscious thought processing components in their current models. Future research should focus on the experiences individuals have with groups and how they can be used to shape the beliefs systems and subsequent behaviors when performing in groups. In other words, do individuals with positive past experiences inherently perform better, and prefer to work, in groups in the future?

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