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Scholars have looked into the process and impact of cognitive functioning during work. The impact of stereotypes and bias on team interactions and overall performance outcomes is at the heart of this inquiry. In general, if the usage of stereotypes and bias is not monitored by the corporation, it can have a negative impact on the organization's performance. Furthermore, it would be detrimental to the employees' health and well-being.
Throughout the case study, many team members show various innate and acquired characteristics that clearly characterize them. However, the team members have already adopted various stereotypes among each other. John is an aging Caucasian but sees himself as hip, street, and also tech savvy. Other team members see him as not only old but also forgetful.
Jill is a young member of the team. Due to her age, she feels that she cannot contribute anything significant that can be of help to the company. Other members of the team feel that due to her young age, she cannot contribute much to the team.
Joe is of average age. He is an immigrant and has limited English. His heavy accent is a source of attention. Consequently, he is teased by other members of the group (albeit in a good-natured way).
Mary, 30 years, went through childhood trauma and is presently with ADA accommodation. The family denies that she was traumatized. Other members of the team find her as pre-occupied. Lastly, Ahsan, 50 years, can as well be termed as living in Indian culture even if she is staying in the US.
Effect on Interaction with the Team
According to Cuhadar and Dayton (274), social identity emanates from the behavior of human beings in to recognize patterns as part of the functional cognitive process. Consequently, human beings tend to create in-groups and out-groups. Mental constructs are used in the setting of expectations and also in the guiding of behavior. In order to preserve the individual and group esteem, employees can turn to the use of biases and stereotypes. Again, individuals tend to favor the members of their own group at the expense of the other.
According to van Laar et al (603), members of a stigmatized group go through an identity threat. The effect is that such members do not assume a passive position. On the contrary, they make numerous efforts in order to protect their identity. The scholars use correlational and experimental methods in order to show that members of a discriminated group do not have to disassociate themselves from their social identity in order to blend smoothly with the company’s goals. Rather, they should aim at concentrating the positive things about their cultural identity and shying away from the negative traits that define them.
Prejudice is one of the most critical ingredients when it comes to intractable conflict. The adversarial individual or group describes the other as not equal or less human (Cuhadar & Dayton 276). Consequently, this forms the foundation of discrimination thereof. If such a scenario is not controlled, then it becomes a culture of the company. Consequently, such a behavior takes long before it is nipped in the bud.
It could be said that the variables of race and ethnicity are most profound in the workplace more than any other type of setting (Plaut et al 478). In addition to that, the workplace consumes a lot of an individual’s time (more so if one considers the amount taken when awake and active). Moreover, the workplace can be a place of cooperation and competition in equal measure.
During a violent conflict, the people are forced out of their farms in order to either fight or go to safer places (Dunn & Mathew 157). This ensures that there is very little room for dialogue. It should be noted that biases and stereotypes have contributed to conflict. This is because they divide the society based on various variables such as geography or ethnicity. In addition to that, it popularizes the concept of “we versus them.” If the case of Serbia-Herzegovina is anything to go by, stereotypes can justify violent attacks.
Violent conflict tends to aggravate towards gender-based harm (Dunn and Mathew 160). The Nuremberg trials brought about the notion of individual accountability when it comes to violent conflict. Feminists have recognized that there is more accountability on the side of individuals due to the fear of trials. However, the feminists question the notion that such trials after war do in deed lead to reduced gender inequality.
Mary, 30 years, faces one big challenge- the childhood trauma that she went through continues to haunt her. The problem is compounded by the fact that the family does not admit that it happened. The problem that comes with such a denial is that it is not easy to seek professional help on disabilities. If the family was more supportive of her and more oipen about what happened, may be Mary would have adapted better, but the family did not. It is therefore not surprising that Mary shows signs of pre-occupation and is not able to effectively interact with others.
Ahsan represents the immigrants who do not necessarily assimilate with the American culture. In other words, such people prefer to preserve their own culture albeit the fact that they are living in the US. This is not uncommon in the US where it is easy to identify a type of dressing or diet with a particular culture. It also explains how some indigenous tribes want “to be left alone.” State actors should note that if a certain community has chosen a certain lifestyle, then there is little that such actors can do.
There are several stereotypes that are used against the South Asians. It is often said that South Asians have an obsession with academic achievement at the expense of other career solutions such us on the job training etc. They are often portrayed as living in crowded places and having a large family. At the same time, they are perceived as not having a complete ability to acculturation.
Lastly, the issue of stereotypes and bias has a strong correlation with the concept of the glass ceiling. In an ideal business environment, anyone can raise up the social ladder to become an executive. In the workplace, cultural diversity promotes synergy as well as innovation (Wilson, 85). From the case study, Mary and Ahsan are female employees. Whereas their jobs are not under direct threat, it is not easy for them to rise up the professional ladder due to the biases and stereotypes subjected to them.
The following are some of the basic premises that can be used to expound on the effect of interaction on the team:
-The higher the rate of ethnic discrimination in the workplace, the lower the job motivation.
-The higher the rate of ethnic discrimination in the workplace, the lower the less the commitment of the employees to the overall goals of the company.
Effect of Bias on Cognitive Functioning
The danger with failure and mismatch in cognitive functioning is that its impact can accumulate in the long run. For example, combat veterans are known to have accumulated a high level of stress over in the course of their past work. It is therefore not surprising to find that they perform poorly in executive functioning. In addition to that, they perform poorly when it comes to sustained attention (Boals et al 1332).
There are a number of physical and cognitive characteristics that are observed in the aging workforce that make such people vulnerable to bias. To start with, a significant number of old people manifest diminished energy in work, whether physical or mental work. Lastly, the older people may have certain medical conditions such as poor eyesight and loss of memory. To an extreme perspective, institutional ageism refers to the policies and company laws that discriminate against other people based on their age.
From a positive angle, old people are valued in that they have accumulated vast experience from the years of work. (Dennis et al 85). They have positive work habits such as a better control of their emotions. In addition to that, they are known to show loyalty. Most importantly, older people are able to work even during a crisis.
However, older people have also been slapped with a number of stereotypes by managers and fellow employees. For instance, the contemporary work environment requires that one embraces technology, but some older people want to do things the traditional way. If a company has a higher number of older employees, there is all the likelihood that it will spend more on health insurance and health related expenses. The older people have been accused of having a deficiency of an aggressive spirit (Dennis et al 85).
From the case study, John is a 75 years old Caucasian, and obviously, he is an aging employee. One wonders if the way he describes himself as hip, street, and tech-savvy is a survival mechanism in the workplace. A typical old person has a little chance of being hip and street. In addition to that, not many old people are able to adapt to the ever-increasing technology. The stereotypes from team members come in in that they describe him as not only old but also forgetful. As stated earlier, old people are vulnerable to certain challenges such as hearing, and this could affect them from their work. Ahsan too could not be described as young being 50 years of age.
Similarly, there are various stereotypes and biases that are directed towards the young people. For example, young people are perceived not to buy the idea that working for long hours translates to more work. On the contrary, the millennia are going to use technology and couple it with a flexible schedule in order to have the job done. Young people are perceived as having some level of dis-loyalty as they strive to get better career positions. The main motivating factor towards the behavior is financial compensation.
From the case study, Jill, who is only 22 years old, interact with the team from the angle of age. She feels that her age cannot enable her make any contribution to the group. Similarly, the members of the team do not feel that her age can allow her to do any contribution. Therefore, the biases and stereotypes from Jill herself and the team members are a barrier towards career development.
Immigrants all over the world face a fair share of challenges and are vulnerable to bias and stereotypes. Here, immigrants could be legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, or outright refugees. A significant number of immigrants learn English upon landing in the US. This means that their accent may not have a clear flow. This becomes an explicit basis of possible bias in the workplace.
In an environment with stiff competition of jobs can be a recipe for biases and stereotypes against immigrants. To gravitate away from the US, South Africa is a perfect example par excellence of the effect of immigration in a society that does not have sufficient resources to sustain the people. In South Africa, a wave of anti-immigration has swept the country a number of times. South Africans have accused African immigrants from other countries of robbing them their jobs and women.
Similarly, from this case study, Joe, is a victim of the fact that he is not able to communicate with standard spoken English like the others. He feels misunderstood and does not like it. The justification that the teasing is done in a good natured way does not dilute the impact that such a behavior does.
Experimental research shows that the reduction of stress through the various methods of intervention plays a critical role in improving performance. The deficit in individual cognitive functioning rolls over to the group functioning. In particular, persons with a mental illness are more prone to the effect of bias.
However, the study of bias on cognitive functioning faces one major challenge- most of such studies takes place in a laboratory. A laboratory setting gives a very different kind of setting to a normal life situation. It goes without saying that the stress in a normal life situation is real and has a higher impact than a set of conditions that are set in the lab.
All the same, a group setting gives a more realistic investigation because of the multiplicity of behavior that comes therein. In addition to that, studying a group offers a platform for interaction (Revham et al 37). .
How Team Members Perceive Other Team Members
The most significant thing that can enhance perception among team members is to ensure that all members of the company are valued irrespective of such variables as ethnicity (Van et al 609). In addition to that, the company’s system should support upward mobility to all members equally. If the company makes such initiatives a policy, then it becomes easier to ensure that the employees behave in compliance.
Cuhadar and Dayton propose a more comprehensive solution to the issue of social identity by suggesting the use of Track Two Diplomacy. According to this method, communities go through a peace building process under the supervision of a neutral third party (273). The rationale behind this is to unearth the root problems and making an attempt on positive transformation.
There have been various studies on whether managers do apply their training in their workplace. Seethamraju and MacKinnon (160) carried out a study on the impact of training on the medical personnel. They found that nurses after training became more conscious of their role allocation, and these includes situational awareness. In addition to that, the study found out that both the doctors and nurses had started the process of collaboration without necessarily having any confrontation.
Generally, training leads to behavior modification. However, such programs should be structured in order to have an optimal outcome. It should be noted that skills as well as knowledge start deteriorating as soon as twelve weeks after the courses. Therefore, training is more of a short term solution than a long term. For long term learning to occur, there ought to be sustained learning including on the job training.
The Way Forward
It is important to target the representatives of the adversarial group in order to sway them to a more favorable behavior. It should be noted that such individuals are influential, and a change in opinion on their side plays a critical role in changing the status quo.
The mirror world model is used to illustrate how an individual sees reality. In connection to this, the judgment of an individual can easily roll up to the judgment of a group (O’Leary & E 5). Again, the decision of an individual can help reduce probability judgment fallacy. As noted, individuals in isolation behave differently than individuals in aggregate.
It is important that companies have a comprehensive training program that encourages diversity. For example, a young population should be encouraged to interact with the older professionals in order to gain experience. In the business environment, the older workforce is able to give the first hand narrative of a number of crises that have taken place in the US history- and such lessons are vital if a company is to survive during such a crisis.
The most viable and sustainable solution to the issue of bias and stereotypes is having a culture of employing diversity. If a company employees a workforce that is drawn from various segments of the population, then there is all the likelihood that such a culture is going to encourage interaction.
It is important that a company avoids legal liability in the hiring decisions. It should be noted that federal and local laws requires that the hiring process is fair and does not discriminate others. The human resource department should carry out a comprehensive audit of the hiring system and identify opportunities of positive transformation. Companies should be cautious about lawsuits because of the immense time and resources that they consume.
Most importantly, the human resource department should be in a position to provide evidence of its hiring process. For example, in case a company is slapped with a lawsuit, it should provide evidence of the parameters used in the hiring process in order to assume a strong defensive position in such proceedings.
The case study shows how complex psychological theories can be adopted in practical situations. However, it is critical that scholars and psychologists identify possible threats that come between theory and practice and formulate sustainable solutions to address such gaps. There is still room for research in the exploration of the parameters that define group dynamics.
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