Is the pain worth the gain? The advantages and liabilities of agreeing with socially distinct newcomers

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2009 Mar;35(3):336-50. doi: 10.1177/0146167208328062. Epub 2008 Dec 19.


The impact of diversity on group functioning is multifaceted. Exploring the impact of having a newcomer join a group, the authors conducted a 2 (social similarity of newcomer to oldtimers; in-group or out-group) x 3 (opinion agreement: newcomer has no opinion ally, one opinion ally, or two opinion allies) interacting group experiment with four-person groups. Groups with out-group newcomers (i.e., diverse groups) reported less confidence in their performance and perceived their interactions as less effective, yet they performed better than groups with in-group newcomers (i.e., homogeneous groups). Moreover, performance gains were not due to newcomers bringing new ideas to the group discussion. Instead, the results demonstrate that the mere presence of socially distinct newcomers and the social concerns their presence stimulates among oldtimers motivates behavior that can convert affective pains into cognitive gains.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Group Processes*
  • Hierarchy, Social*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychological Distance
  • Social Conformity
  • Social Desirability*
  • Social Facilitation
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception*