Personal-Controlling (German Edition)


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These findings illustrate that ingroup identification can in fact restore perceptions of control and may thus add to research examining beneficial effects of social identity for human well-being social cure effects; Jetten et al. However, agency is not the only characteristic of task groups and thus the effects of salient threat to personal control may be attributed to processes other than group-based control. To solve this issue, we conducted Studies 2 and 3, where we directly tested whether perceived group agency is necessary for increased group attractiveness following threatened personal control 2.

In Studies 2 and 3, we also intended to contrast the proposed moderating effect of perceived collective agency to the effects of other potential moderators, thereby turning from ingroup identification to the attractiveness of groups people do not yet belong. Here, we assume that potential new members become more likely to join the group when they perceive features of the group satisfying their personal needs Moreland and Levine, Therefore, threat to personal control should increase the attractiveness of groups that are perceived as being agentic.

The results of Study 1 are a first indication that agentic ingroups are especially attractive for people who lack personal control. In Study 2 we extend this hypothesis to potential ingroups of which people are not part of yet.

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Furthermore, to test whether the effect of perceived collective agency is unique, possible effects of other factors, such as group size, perceived group power or perceived unspecific group homogeneity should be teased apart from agency perceptions. In Study 2, we investigated the impact of control threat on attractiveness of groups differing in size. Small groups are better able to act in a coordinated manner, whereas in cases where large groups solve their coordination problems, as majority groups, they will have more social power to attain resources and could thus elicit effects on the environment.

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As thus, small and large groups' agency may be in the eye of the beholder, we decided to use relative measures, assessing participants' idiosyncratic perceptions of how agentic large groups are in comparison to small groups. In addition, we measured participants' relative perceptions of large vs. We expected participants to respond to threatened personal control by showing a relative preference for groups of that size they perceive as relatively more agentic.

Although both group power and homogeneity could be related to perceptions of collective agency, they are each insufficient to cover all aspects of agency. Power can refer to personal influence, but also to the possession of resources and high status. Only the former perception shows a conceptual association with the outcome aspect of agency but less so with its process shared intention and coordinated collective action.

In a similar vein, homogeneity may prepare the ground for building shared intentions but is not implying that coordinated action or visible outcomes do occur. That is why we only expected full-blown agency to moderate control threat effects on group attractiveness. Fifty university students participated in the study.

We excluded one participant who had guessed the aim of the study, and two participants who participated in a similar experiment previously, resulting in a final sample of 47 participants. For both, dependent variable and moderators, we used measures that assessed participants' relative perceptions of large vs. We tested relative group agency, power, and group member homogeneity of large vs. Participants were asked at the campus of a German university to take part in a study on attitudes, biorhythm and personality.

After they had agreed upon participation, they received a questionnaire, which opened with a control salience manipulation similar to those used in Study 1.

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In the low control salience condition high control salience in parentheses they read: Take a moment to think about situations or incidents, in which you realized that you have very little very much control and impact on important things in your life. Please describe briefly in your own words one event or situation that made you feel helpless influential.

How did you feel in that situation? This was followed by a questionnaire on sleep- and awakening patterns, which served as a delay task, as in Study 1. Then, participants made attractiveness rating for six pairs of groups, representing environmental organizations, political parties, companies, aid agencies, and cliques, that were each briefly described.

Within one pair, the group descriptions differed only in group size one small group, one large group.

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Participants were instructed to imagine that both groups would equally correspond to their attitudes and beliefs and that they should make a decision, which group they would rather like to join. To preserve the comparative nature of the judgments, we computed a difference score for the dependent variable of group attractiveness ratings, subtracting ratings of small groups from ratings of large groups, resulting in a variable that reflected the relative attractiveness of large compared to small groups.

Group attributes were assessed as relative measures, too. After finishing the experiment, participants were thanked, fully debriefed and received a chocolate bar for their participation.

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Thus, the manipulation of control salience was successful. We tested whether control threat would increase relative preference for the group size that participants saw as relatively more agentic. For participants who saw large groups as more agentic than small groups, we predicted that the control threat would increase their relative preference for large groups.


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For participants who saw small groups as more agentic than large groups, we predicted the reverse, that control threat would increase their relative preference for small groups. Thus, we predicted a crossover interaction. We tested for moderation by perceived relative agency of large groups, using the process macro for SPSS by Hayes We regressed relative attractiveness of large vs.

Agency and the interaction term were mean centered. Figure 2. Relative attractiveness of large groups compared to small groups difference score as a function of control salience low vs. The results of Study 2 confirm our hypothesis that agency, and not perceived power or group member homogeneity, moderates the effect of control salience on perceived attractiveness of potential ingroups. Threat to control increased the relative attractiveness of small groups when these were perceived as more agentic than large groups.

For people with low perceptions of control, attractiveness of small compared to large groups was higher, when they perceived small groups to be relatively more agentic than large groups. However, control threat did not increase preference for large groups, when large groups were perceived as relatively more agentic than small groups.

Perceived group power and member homogeneity did not moderate the control salience effect on group attractiveness.


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These findings emphasize the importance of agency as the crucial group feature that defines whether groups can serve as a resource for personal control. Moreover, the results of the study provide first evidence that control threat can affect the choice of group membership. This could offer new insights, why some groups become attractive for people with low control perception and others do not.

Although, perceived group power did not elevate control threat effects on group attractiveness, it is possible that groups high in power offer more opportunities to their members to perceive control than their low power counterparts. Power has been defined in terms of dependence, as an asymmetrical control over resources e. In intergroup research, collective action, the coordinated, voluntary action on behalf of the group, has been referred to as the basis for group power Turner, This distinction between resource control and agency definitions of power may help to understand why perceived power is not related to control perceptions, as it seemed to be in the present study, and sometimes it is related to perceptions of control Guinote et al.

When groups are perceived as powerful due to agency reasons, they should have the potential to provide members with a sense of control. However, power due to disposability of resources does not necessarily imply that the group has acquired the resources through collective effort high status groups often obtain resources because they are entitled but not because they have invested high effort or that they apply these resources for common goal pursuit.

This would support the finding from interpersonal power research that people often strive for personal power, which reflects the desire to increase one's sense of agency, but less so for social power, which reflects the desire to have control over others van Dijke and Poppe, In Study 2 perceived agency determined the effect of control threat on attractiveness ratings, however, as we used a global measure of agency, we were not able to assess whether all components of agency were present.

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It is possible that people indeed infer agency, but inference should be stronger when more components are present Preston and Wegner, In Study 3 we thus used a more elaborated measure of collective agency perceptions, covering collective intention cf. By employing realistic pictures of entitative and non-entitative groups we thought to use a more subtle procedure to present group features to participants. This allowed us to test directly our assumption that entitativity is necessary for perceptions of collective control, but that it is not sufficient to explain control threat effects on group attractiveness ratings.

We expected personal control threat to increase attractiveness ratings of entitative and agentic groups, whereas attractiveness of groups that lack either entitativity or agency should not be affected by control threat. Moreover, we tested whether the proposed effect of personal control threat on the evaluation of agentic groups is independent of the social status participants ascribe to the groups.

This enabled us to test whether the effect is specific to processes of group-based control, which would imply a moderation by perceived agency but no parallel moderation by status. Alternatively, a moderation by status that cancels out the moderation by perceived agency would suggest a self-esteem account of the personal control salience effect, assuming that people strive for collective status in order to satisfy self-esteem needs Tajfel and Turner, ; Rubin and Hewstone, Eighty university students participated in the study, two participants were excluded from the sample, one guessed the aim of the study, and one participated in a similar experiment previously.

Thus, the final sample consisted of 78 participants, 43 were female and 35 were male, with a mean age of Participants recruited at the university campus, were asked to take part in a study on personality traits and group perceptions. After participants had agreed upon participation, they received the questionnaire first containing a control salience manipulation, that has been previously used in group-based control research Fritsche et al. Participants in the low control salience condition high control salience in parentheses read: Take some moments to think of those aspects of your life, that give you a sense of helplessness and lacking impact power and impact on the important things of your life.

Please, briefly jot down in your own words those three aspects of your life that make you feel most helpless powerful 3. Then, participants were presented with 12 pictures of an aggregate of people, six pictures depicted people forming an entitative group, whereas six other pictures depicted people in a similar context who did not form an entitative group see Supplementary Material. We told participants to imagine that they would like to start a similar group as it was depicted in the picture with people they like.

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