Where Science Meets Muse

The Alpha Dog That Isn’t All That

Posted by Plish on February 16, 2009



Excellent article over at TIME magazine.  Turns out that dominant personalities have a tendency to be viewed as experts in groups and drive the group, regardless of the level of expertise they possess.  They are not only faking it, but making it, for themselves and for others.

“Dominant individuals behaved in ways that made them appear competent,” the researchers write, “above and beyond their actual competence.” Troublingly, group members seemed only too willing to follow these underqualified bosses. An overwhelming 94% of the time, the teams used the first answer anyone shouted out – often giving only perfunctory consideration to others that were offered.

The ramifications of this for group brainstorming sessions is obvious.  Of course brainstormings are moderated, but still, this is a cautionary tale that again reinforces that when it comes to interpersonal dynamics in a group setting, there is much we are still learning, and often the relationships and influences within the group are less than positive.

The plus side is that there is something to be said for “faking it until you make it”.  Act the part well enough and you may get it!

What do you think about this?


2 Responses to “The Alpha Dog That Isn’t All That”

  1. LOVED your book – even had my husband read it! As far as brainstorming goes, research by Professor Olivier Toubia at Columbia backs up the need for anonymity in brainstorming for just these reasons. IDEALYST is an online brainstorming system developed by Applied Marketing Science based on Professor Toubia’s research, which lets groups of employees and customers brainstorm anonymously over the web over a one-or-two-week period, with incentives given to those that contribute the most. It’s a way to get recognized for your ideas without worrying about your status or politics within the company. Check us out at http://www.ams-inc.com.

  2. Plish said

    Hi Michelle! Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. I’m not sure which book you are referring to, however (though I am working on that).

    Excellent points and I totally subscribe to the need for anonymity in brainstorming. The IDEALYST lead is excellent and much appreciated. I will look into it more as a resource for clients.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: