Virtually everyone who joins a new group is sensitive to the fact that, as a newcomer, he or she must tread carefully for a while, keeping a low profile until becoming sufficiently integrated into the group. When they do offer their ideas, criticisms, and suggestions, existing group members typically resist their contributions. Why does that happen and what can be done to overcome that resistance? Research published in the July issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB), from SAGE, explores those questions.
The studies, authored in PSPB by Matthew J. Hornsey, Tim Grice, Jolanda Jetten, Neil Paulsen, and Victor Callan (all at University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia), examined how groups responded to identical criticisms of the group presented by both newcomers and old-timers. In every instance, the newcomers' statements aroused less agreement and more negativity than the same comments delivered by long-term members. As a result, old-timers were more influential in persuading others than the newcomers were.
The authors conclude that the resistance to newcomers occurred because they were perceived as being less attached to their group member identity than long-term members, leading others to question whether they had the group's best interests at heart. "Newcomers should have greater influence to the extent that they show commitment to their identity as a group member," write the authors. "Newcomers who seemed to relinquish their attachment to a community to which they formerly belonged were more influential in their new group."
Newcomers face an uphill battle to have their criticisms and recommendations for change accepted and this research can help them bring about positive change in the groups they join.
The article, "Group Directed Criticism and Recommendations for Change: Why Newcomers Arouse More Resistance than Old-Timers," published by SAGE in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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