HR Strange But True!
August 18, 2010
Forget birth order! Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern have found that where you sit during tasks can affect your perception as successful by other members in the group.

In a study titled "Did I Do That? Group Positioning and Asymmetry in Attributional Bias,” researchers (and Steve Urkel fans?) Brian C. Gunia of Kellogg and Brice Corgnet of the Universidad de Navarra in Spain found that workers’ satisfaction—or the lack of it—with group members may be determined by where they are sitting.

In the study, three-person groups were seated in rows and asked to complete a numerical task using shared instruction and answer sheets to encourage collaboration. The participants were then separated and asked to fill out a questionnaire gauging their contribution to the group in comparison to the contributions of their group members given in estimated percentages.

The results showed that the person seated in the center routinely took one-third of the credit for the task, while the two outside participants took more credit for the outcome (45 percent) themselves, and “undervalued” the contributions of the other outside member, but rated the “man in the middle” at one-third.

The researchers concluded that this result meant that “the inability to see other group members was, indeed, the driver of people’s credit judgment. … People consistently appreciated their ‘neighbor’ and underappreciated those far away.”

Guess this gives new meaning to the bromide “out of sight, out of mind.” SBT wants to know what happens if team members are seated at a round table!



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