We routinely work together with other people. Often, we try to achieve shared goals in groups, whether as a team of firefighters or in a scientific collaboration. When working together, many people – naturally – would prefer doing so with others who are their friends. But, as much as we like spending time with our friends, is working with them in a group really good for our performance?
How do you decide whether to approach a group of strangers for help, whether to sign a contract with one company or another, or whether to be fully honest about your abilities and interests when answering questions from a job interview panel?
There are a range of everyday interactions in which an individual must make decisions about how much to trust a group of people. These decisions are sometimes based on limited information and made with little or no previous contact with the group. So how do we decide whether the group is trustworthy?
When it comes to prejudice, it does not matter if you are smart or not, or conservative or liberal, each group has their own specific biases. In a recent study, psychologists show that low cognitive ability (i.e., intelligence, verbal ability) was not a consistent predictor of prejudice. Cognitive ability, whether high or low, only predicts prejudice towards specific groups. The results are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
A classic study in social psychology revealed that we cannot always trust our perceptions. Nonetheless, there are some good ways to uncover the truth. And doing so might help us reduce political polarization.
Using variations of the “trolley-dilemma” where people choose who to save or not save others in a hypothetical situation, social psychologists show that for certain groups, under certain conditions in a hypothetical scenario, having an anglicized name means you’re more likely to be saved than if you kept your original Asian or Arab name.