, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 281-296

The effects of the sex composition of groups on style of social interaction

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Abstract

Bales's revised interaction category analyses (1970) were done from audio tapes of 77 four-person discussion groups: 46 mixed-sex groups, 15 female groups, and 16 male groups. Each group discussed three cases for a total of 35 minutes. The hypothesis tested was that females in mixed-sex groups would suppress their level of “task” contribution and engage in higher levels of “socioemotional” contributions when compared to the performance of women in one-sex groups. Males were also predicted to become more sex-role stereotyped in mixed-sex groups, showing the opposite effect. Results showed large sex differences, regardless of group composition, in the direction of traditional sex roles. The effect of group composition, however, was opposite to that predicted. An effect of an experimental intervention during the second discussion topic on subsequent sex-role performance was also found. Implications for education are discussed.