Week 6: Group Polarization<br />IdeaScale: Crowdsourcing government<br />Collect ideas from your customers, give them a pl...
Group Polarization<br />Stemming from research done by Stoner (1961) that explored group decision making and the tendency ...
Process at Play: IdeaScale.com<br />Open call for all ideas, encouraging diversity of thought (we assume). Keep in mind th...
Conclusions & Recommendations<br />Encourage personalization. LinkedIn sends you reminders and indicates on your page how ...
References<br />Moscovici, S. and Zavalloni, M. (1969). The group as a polarizer of attitudes. Journal of Personality and ...
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IdeaScale: Group Polarization at Play

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IdeaScale: Group Polarization at Play

  1. 1. Week 6: Group Polarization<br />IdeaScale: Crowdsourcing government<br />Collect ideas from your customers, give them a platform to vote, the most important ideas bubble to the top. –IdeaScale.com<br />
  2. 2. Group Polarization<br />Stemming from research done by Stoner (1961) that explored group decision making and the tendency for individual opinions to intensify with a collective, Festinger (1950) and Moscovici & Zavalloni (1969), continued the study of group polarization, and identified it as “a shift in the extremity of private opinions toward the local norm after group discussion.” We have seen this play out in social spaces online and off, especially around issues like healthcare, immigration, the Iraq war and state and federal budgets. The tendency for a lengthy comment/conversation to become polarized is one example of this. We see it in responses to the editor, in the comment section of our favorite online news media or blog, or on crowdsourcing sites such as the Seattle-based IdeaScale.com—a site that helps organizations “Collect ideas from your customers, give them a platform to vote, the most important ideas bubble to the top” (IdeaScale.com, 2010).<br />But what exactly is it that leads to group polarization? According to discussion (Festinger, 1950, Moscovici & Zavalloni, 1969), the following group norms or conditions exist in groups that become polarized:<br />• lacks diversity; one-sided rather than two-sidedarguments—this tends to happen among groups that are already established as lacking in diversity to some extent—conservative news outlets, is one example.<br />• discussants belong to an ingroup and emphasize distinction from an outgroup<br />• competition– group members are encouraged to be prototypical<br />• deindividuation- group members are less personally identifiable<br />• low immediacy – group members are physically or psychologically distanced from each other<br />Two additional theories are noteworthy in this conversation of group polarization (Myers & Lamm, 1975): <br />Interpersonal comparison: assumes that people desire to perceive and present themselves favorable in relation to others. In a group setting, this either causes one’s responses to be stronger if they align with the group, or shift to align with the group if they are not.<br />informal influence: ideas offered tend to result in favoring the dominant , or preexisting viewpoint. <br />These theories, in addition to what Festinger (1950), Moscovici & Zavalloni(1969) have identified, are important considerations in understanding group dynamics, and in assessing whatorganizations and web designers can do to address this issue of group polarization and create a space where all opinions are viewed.<br />
  3. 3. Process at Play: IdeaScale.com<br />Open call for all ideas, encouraging diversity of thought (we assume). Keep in mind that people who participate in these forums tend to already be set in their thought and want to use this platform to express that (vs. having a conversation). Is there really “wisdom of crowds?” <br />Not clear about what method gets an idea to be considered the “best” idea. Is it the one with the most votes? Is it based on comments? Do we believe in the wisdom of the crowds or the idiocy of the mob?<br />Moderators must first approve/reject ideas before they can be displayed on the site. Is this really a democratic process if ideas are moderated? What are the guidelines? Do we trust the crowds?<br />This uses a special algorithm to sort ideas by both time and number of votes - giving your community members an additional view of all the ideas in your community (https://ideascale.tenderapp.com/faqs/ideascale-setup/ideascale-20-features)<br />Will the option to hide one’s identity/anonymously post encourage more extreme opinions to be voiced, or will it encourage more alignment with the dominant voice?<br />
  4. 4. Conclusions & Recommendations<br />Encourage personalization. LinkedIn sends you reminders and indicates on your page how complete your profile is. If anonymity or deindividuationleads to group polarization, build in reminders to community participants to add a photo or information to their profiles. We forget that online spaces leave out many visual clues that in-person interactions offer. The more information we share about our individual selves with others, the more of a community we feel that we are a part of. <br /> Merge similar threads of conversation. Though moderators of conversations already have the ability to merge ideas, IdeaScale may want to consider some automated way of grouping these conversations, similar to what Facebook is doing in grouping like posts or posts from the same person. This way, others can see what else the individuals is saying about other topics, or what other similar comments have been posted around a particular issue. <br />Rate users. IdeaScale may also want to experiment with the idea of user ratings. This formalizes the process of identifying thought leaders who emerge, by allowing the crowd to assign a value to their conversation/ideas. <br />
  5. 5. References<br />Moscovici, S. and Zavalloni, M. (1969). The group as a polarizer of attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 12, 125-135.<br />Myers, D. G., & Lamm, H. (1975).American Scientist, 63, 297-303. (Reprinted in I. L. Janis, ed., Current Trends in Psychology, William Kaufman, 1977<br />Festinger, Leon. 1950. Informal social communication. Psychological Review 57: 271-282.<br /> <br />

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