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Influence of Facial Displays of Emotion and Collective Behaviors on Perceptions of Team Effectiveness

Research Topic
Influence of Facial Displays of Emotion and Collective Behaviors on Perceptions of Team Effectiveness

Lead Researcher
Bonny Justin William, Assistant Professor, Morgan State University

Host Researcher
Yoshiyuki Ueda, Senior Lecturer, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

How can you tell if individuals are effectively performing as a team? Team dynamics research has focused on developing indicators of team effectiveness that can be observed while teams perform. Effective teams tend to be those that have higher performance and have members who report higher cohesion, the extent to which team members identify as a group. Feedback from third-party observers while teams are performing is key to achieving multiple professional organization goals, including team training and performance evaluation. Questions remain regarding how different indicators, such as the collective behaviors and facially-displayed emotions of teammates, interact and influence third-party observer perceptions while teams are performing.

Metrics of collective behaviors indicate the extent to which the actions of teammates are aligned. These have typically been investigated with regard to the performance of sports teams (López-Felip et al., 2018). Recent evidence suggests that observers may use collective behaviors to predict the cohesion of a team. Specifically, participants that observed two players moving across a screen synchronously judged the dyad as having greater cohesion compared to those who moved asynchronously (Wilson & Gos, 2019).

Theories of team dynamics emphasize the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication. Facial displays of emotion by teammates are one type of non-verbal communication. Past research has observed that the amount of positive valence facially-expressed by teammates correlated with self-reported team cohesion (Mønster et al., 2016). This suggests that observers, in addition to members, may use facially-expressed emotions as indicators of team dynamics.

The goal of the proposed research is to examine how observer perceptions of performing teams are affected by the collective behaviors and facial displays of emotion of members. This is especially pertinent given evidence that observer interpretations of facial displays of emotion can be influenced by contextual cues (Barrett & Kensinger, 2010), including social context (Jakobs et al., 2001) and whether individuals achieved their goal (Kayyal et al., 2015). It is hypothesized that observers incorporate collective behavior and teammate facial expressions when judging the effectiveness of performing teams. The results of this research can inform the extent to which third-party observations of team effectiveness are multiply determined and the relative impact of different visual indicators of team dynamics. The expected results of this research are anticipated to include a new stimulus set of simulated teams performing an activity, a research manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, and a research presentation. It is anticipated that the proposed research will be the start of a series of collaborative studies between Dr. Bonny and the Kokoro Research Center (KRC) Collaborator.