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COM 520, Spring 2018 – Reading Guide Questions for January 23

For Griffin on the Functional Perspective

1. pp. 234-239: Explain the four functions in your own words.  Think of a decision that had to be made recently by a group you belong to.  How might the four functions have played out in that decision making process?  Do you suspect the decision you made would have been different had you followed that process?  How?

2. Does the decision-making path identified on pp. 239-240 make sense to you?  How about the notion that evaluating negative consequences of the alternatives is the most important of the four factors?  How so or why not?

3. pp. 240-241:  What are the obstacles Gouran and Hirokawa identify that can get in the way of group decision making?  How were these problematic in the decision making process you discussed in your answer to question 1 above?  What are the three ways some researchers classify messages to analyze group interaction?  What is the critique of this type of analysis?  Do you agree?

4. Now please answer question 3 on page 245 of the reading.

5. In the paragraph that starts on the bottom of p. 241 and continues on the top of p. 242, what are offered as reasons groups abandon the functional approach?  Has this happened in group decision making efforts in which you've participated?  Was the decision you arrived at better or worse as a result?  Further down p. 242, what is the suggestion Gouran and Hirokawa give to bring the discussion back on a rational path when a powerful member tries to veer it away?  Would it work in groups you've belonged to?

6. pp. 243-244: In your own words, what is Stohl and Holmes's critique of the functional perspective?  Based on your experience with groups, do you agree with them?  And on p. 244, what other factors play a role in successful group decision making?  How do you reconcile these with the purely rational nature of the four functions?

For Propp and Nelson:

1. The authors begin the article by saying that too much small group research is done using “zero-history groups.”  What do they mean by that term?  Why are “zero-history groups” problematic?  Why do you suppose they’re attractive to researchers?

2. So tell me in English:

a) What was this study trying to find out? 
b) How did they try to find it out?

3. Which of their five hypotheses were supported and which weren’t?  For each: 
a) How do the authors account for the result in the “Discussion” section? 
b) Does their analysis make sense?  Why or why not?

4. What else needs to be said about either of these readings, or about the functional perspective, that we haven't said yet?  What questions do you have?

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