Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Michael J. Lovaglia


This research investigated the relationship between group size and the process of trust, cohesion, and commitment formation in joint-task groups. Specifically, the theory proposes that groups with greater six members will produce lower trust, cohesion, and commitment than those smaller than six members. Theory was developed linking group size to these processes through the mechanism of anticipated mutual perception, the amount an individual considers what others are thinking about them. Two experimental studies test the impact of anticipated mutual perception on interpersonal influence and trust, cohesion, and commitment. Study 1 tested the impact of being able to see a partner and closeness to a partner on a partner's level of influence over participants. Participants were more influenced by partners they could see than by partner's who were separated from the participant by place or time. Status differences also affected influence, even when partners were absent, having left information for use by participants.

Study 2 investigated how group size affected participant reports of interpersonal trust, cohesion, and commitment to other group members. Results suggest that members of larger groups had lower commitment to other group members, and that groups larger than six members were negatively associated with levels of trust reported by group members. Further, measures used to isolate aspects of anticipated mutual perception were shown to affect the development of interpersonal trust, cohesion, and commitment, in support of the theory. Group cohesion was found to vary with expectations of competence. These expectations significantly predicted measures of shared awareness capturing aspects of anticipated mutual perception, possibly offsetting negative effects of increasing group size. Study 2 also found evidence that group members prefer to work with groups made up of 4-6 members, consistent with the theory. This research has implications for the ways in which organizations structure group work. This research suggests that the size of the group as well as the characteristics of individuals and their interaction partners may affect how people form cohesive relationships. Trust is an important aspect of groups that promotes cooperation, commitment, and collective identity formation. Further, this research supports a growing literature on the ways that micro-interaction promotes commitment to organizations by promoting or detracting from attributions of positive sentiment to smaller, nested groups within those organizations.


Cohesion, Commitment, Group Size, Influence, Trust


viii, 131 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 126-131).


Copyright 2012 Shane Drew Soboroff

Included in

Sociology Commons