SOCIAL ATTENTION THEORY: A NEW LOOK AT KNOWLEDGE FORMATION IN GROUPS
Gelfand, Michele J
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Individuals in crowded theaters, stadiums and lecture halls know that they attend to the events on the stage, on the field, and at the podium with others. Extending the literature on social foundations of knowledge formation, Social Attention Theory posits that knowingly attending to a stimulus with one's group renders that stimulus more cognitively accessible in memory. The theory is tested across three studies where participants attend to stimuli such as words (study 1), goals (study 2), and time pressure (study 3) with members of their group or a control group. Across all three experiments, participants exhibited greater cognitive accessibility for the stimuli attended to with their group (i.e., similar others). Results also showed that individuals felt more social when attending to stimuli with their group, but did not feel happier, more motivated or more alert.