Finding Fault Lines

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NSF-funded study asks ‘does diversity enhance team success?’

Watson Associate Professor of Psychology Scott Tonidandel is co-investigator in a study recently funded by the National Science Foundation for $479,767 over three years.

Tonidandel will join principal investigator Eden King, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University, to explore group diversity “fault lines” and their patterns for the study, titled “When Team Diversity Facilitates Performance: Understanding and Overcoming Fractured Behavioral Patterns.”

Two examples of “fractured behavioral patterns” or “fault lines” can be illustrated by the questions of whether women are more likely to be interrupted in business conversation, or whether people withdraw physically from individuals who are not of the same ethnicity.

Tonidandel and King will make use of Sociometric wearable electronic sensing devices that can capture face-to-face interaction, extract social signals from speech and body movement, and measure proximity and location of users. Comprehensive analysis of those data will then help them pinpoint the fault lines in one-on-one human interactions.

“This study will go beyond the one-dimensional thinking of, for example, race and gender ratios, and the various manual overlays psychology has traditionally used to explore them,” said Tonidandel.

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