The effect of uniqueness-relevant feedback on the behaviors and perceptions of individual group discussants

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RIC/CAPS Resources in Education Index, ED252760


Uniqueness theory suggests that individuals are most comfortable with the thought that they are moderately different or unique from others. To test whether individuals with a high need for uniqueness are perceived as being different from those with a low need for uniqueness, 144 college students participated in a two-part study. In part one, subjects completed an attitude survey and several personality scales including Snyder and Fromkin's Need for Uniqueness Scale (NUS). They were then scheduled for one of 48 three-person discussion groups and assigned to one of three conditions: (1) no-feedback; (2) uniqueness-depriving feedback; or (3) uniqueness-enhancing feedback. In part two of the study, subjects reviewed their responses to the attitude survey (which for subjects in feedback groups now contained the uniqueness-relevant feedback), and then completed a manipulation check questionnaire. Subjects then participated in a 20-minute discussion of issues from the attitude survey. They then rated the behavior and personality of each participant including their own. An analysis of results indicated that false feedback altered subjects' perceptions of their similiarity to the average college student, but not their group behaviors, as rated by group participants. No-feedback subjects maintained the perception of their own difference. Persons with high NUS scores tended to be low in public self-consciousness and social anxiety, and to be rated as more extraverted, talkative, persuasive, and dissimilar from other students. The findings suggest that need for uniqueness influences individual behavior in group settings. (JAC)