One task, divergent solutions: high- versus low-status sources and social comparison guide adaptation in a computer-supported socio-cognitive conflict task

  • Antonia E. E. BaumeisterEmail author
  • Tanja Engelmann
  • Friedrich W. Hesse
Research Article


This experimental study extends conflict elaboration theory (1) by revealing social influence dynamics for a knowledge-rich computer-supported socio-cognitive conflict task not investigated in the context of this theory before and (2) by showing the impact of individual differences in social comparison orientation. Students in two conditions (N = 59) compared their self-created task solution with a partly correct solution presented additionally, deviating from their solution. The other solution’s source was introduced either as a low status source (“peer”) or as a high status source (“textbook”) whereas the presented solution was identical. In a baseline condition, this comparison possibility was missing. Students in the textbook condition experienced more socio-cognitive conflict and adapted their solution more often to the correct aspect of the presented solution than students in the peer condition. Students low in social comparison orientation adapted their solution more extensively in the textbook condition than in the peer condition.


Socio-cognitive conflict Conflict elaboration theory High- versus low-status sources Adaptation Social comparison orientation 



This work was supported by the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM) in Tuebingen (Germany) and by a scholarship of the Virtual Graduate School “Knowledge Acquisition and Knowledge Exchange with New Media” funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not those of the funding agency.


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (2006). Toward a psychology of human agency. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(2), 164–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumeister, A. E. E., Engelmann, T., & Hesse, F. W. (2016). Impact of peer talk in a computer-based socio-cognitive conflict task. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  4. Bodemer, D. (2011). Tacit guidance for collaborative multimedia learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1086–1097.Google Scholar
  5. Buder, J., & Bodemer, D. (2008). Supporting controversial CSCL discussions with augmented group awareness tools. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3(2), 123–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buder, J., Bodemer, D., Dehler, J., & Engelmann, T. (2009). SCAN tools for collaborative learning. In C. O’Malley, D. Suthers, P. Reimann, & A. Dimitracopoulou (Eds.), Computer supported collaborative learning practices: CSCL 2009 conference proceedings (Vol. 1, pp. 606–615). International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS).Google Scholar
  7. Butera, F., Caverni, J. P., & Rossi, S. (2005). Interaction with a high- versus low-competence influence source in inductive reasoning. The Journal of Social Psychology, 145, 173–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buunk, A. P., & Gibbons, F. X. (2007). Social comparison: The end of a theory and the emergence of a field. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 102, 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cathey, C. (2007). Power of peer review: An online collaborative learning assignment in social psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 34(2), 97–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  11. Darnon, C., & Butera, F. (2007). Learning or succeeding? Conflict regulation with mastery or performance goals. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 66, 145–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Darnon, C., Doll, S., & Butera, F. (2007). Dealing with a disagreeing partner: Relational and epistemic conflict elaboration. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 22, 227–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dehler-Zufferey, J., Bodemer, D., Buder, J., & Hesse, F. W. (2011). Partner knowledge awareness in knowledge communication: Learning by adapting to the partner. The Journal of Experimental Education, 79, 102–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influence upon individual judgment. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 629–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Engelmann, T. (2014). Potential and impact factors of the knowledge and information awareness approach for fostering net-based collaborative problem-solving: An overview. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 50(3), 403–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Engelmann, T., Baumeister, A., Dingel, A., & Hesse, F. W. (2010). The added value of communication in a CSCL-scenario compared to just having access to the partners’ knowledge and information. In J. Sánchez, A. Cañas, & J. D. Novak (Eds.), Concept maps making learning meaningful: proceedings of the 4th international conference on concept mapping (Vol. 1, pp. 377–384). Chile: University of ChileGoogle Scholar
  17. Engelmann, T., Dehler, J., Bodemer, D., & Buder, J. (2009). Knowledge awareness in CSCL: A psychological perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(4), 949–960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gergen, K. J., & Bauer, R. A. (1967). Interactive effects of self-esteem and task difficulty on social conformity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 16–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gibbons, F. X., & Buunk, B. P. (1999). Individual differences in social comparison: Development of a scale of social comparison orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harmon, J. (1998). Electronic meetings and intense group conflict: Effects of a policy-modeling performance support system and an audio communication support system on satisfaction and agreement. Group Decision and Negotiation, 7, 131–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hughes, P. T. (1993). Going off the rails: Understanding conflict in practice. In S. Easterbrook (Ed.), CSCW: Cooperation or conflict? (Computer supported cooperative work series) (pp. 161–169). London: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Janssen, J., & Bodemer, D. (2013). Coordinated computer-supported collaborative learning: Awareness and awareness tools. Educational Psychologist, 48, 40–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kozlov, M. D., & Große, C. S. (2016). Online collaborative learning in dyads: Effects of knowledge distribution and awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 59, 389–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee, G., Kwon, J., Park, S.-S., Kim, J.-W., Kwon, H.-G., & Park, H.-K. (2003). Development of an instrument for measuring cognitive conflict in secondary-level science classes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 585–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Limón, M. (2001). On the cognitive conflict as an instructional strategy for conceptual change: A critical appraisal. Learning and Instruction, 11, 357–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maggi, J., Butera, F., & Mugny, G. (1996). The conflict of incompetences: Direct and indirect influences on representation of the centimetre. International Review of Social Psychology, 9, 91–105.Google Scholar
  30. Marchand, H. (2012). Contributions of Piagetian and post-Piagetian theories to education. Educational Research Review, 7, 165–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Michinov, E., & Michinov, N. (2001). The similarity hypothesis: A test of the moderating role of social comparison orientation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 549–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mugny, G., Butera, F., Sanchez-Mazas, M., & Pérez, J. A. (1995). Judgements in conflict: The conflict elaboration theory of social influence. In: B. Boothe, R. Hirsig, A. Helminger, B. Meier, & R. Volkart (Eds.), Perception evaluation interpretation. Swiss monographs in psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 160–168). Bern: Huber.Google Scholar
  33. Mugny, G., Tafani, E., Butera, F., & Pigière, D. (1998). Contrainte et dependence informationnelles: Influence sociale sur la representation du groupe d’amis ideal. Connexions, 72, 55–72.Google Scholar
  34. Muller, D., Judd, C. M., & Yzerbyt, V. Y. (2005). When moderation is mediated and mediation is moderated. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(6), 852–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nievelstein, F., Van Gog, T., Boshuizen, H. P. A., & Prins, F. J. (2010). Effects of conceptual knowledge and availability of information sources on law students’ legal reasoning. Instructional Science, 38, 23–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2006). The origins of concept maps and the continuing evolution of the tool. Information Visualization Journal, 5, 175–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Paulus, T. M. (2009). Online but off-topic: Negotiating common ground in small learning groups. Instructional Science, 37, 227–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Quiamzade, A. (2007). Imitation and performance in confrontations between competent peers: The role of the representation of the task. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 22, 243–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Quiamzade, A., & Mugny, G. (2001). Social influence dynamics in aptitude tasks. Social Psychology of Education, 4, 311–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Quiamzade, A., Mugny, G., & Darnon, C. (2009). The coordination of problem solving strategies: When low competence sources exert more influence on task processing than high competence sources. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 159–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ray, D., Neugebauer, J., Sassenberg, K., Buder, J., & Hesse, F. W. (2013). Motivated shortcomings in explanation: The role of comparative self-evaluation and awareness of explanation recipient’s knowledge. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142, 445–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rosander, M., & Eriksson, O. (2012). Conformity on the internet—The role of task difficulty and gender differences. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 1587–1595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scheiter, K., & Gerjets, P. (2004). Sequence effects in solving knowledge-rich problems: The ambiguous role of surface similarities. In R. Alterman & D. Kirsh (Eds.), Proceedings of the 25th annual conference of the cognitive science society (pp. 1035–1040). Mahwah, NJ: ErlbaumGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, W. P., & Sachs, P. R. (1997). Social comparison and task prediction: Ability similarity and the use of a proxy. British Journal of Social Psychology, 36, 587–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. Sociological Methodology, 13, 290–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Suthers, D. D. (2006). Technology affordances for intersubjective meaning making: A research agenda for CSCL. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1, 315–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sweller, J., van Merriënboer, J. J. G., & Paas, F. G. W. C. (1998). Cognitive architecture and instructional design. Educational Psychology Review, 10, 251–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Trautmann, N. M. (2009). Interactive learning through web-mediated peer review of student science reports. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57, 685–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonia E. E. Baumeister
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tanja Engelmann
    • 2
  • Friedrich W. Hesse
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTechnische Universitaet ChemnitzChemnitzGermany
  2. 2.Macromedia University of Applied SciencesStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM) & Universitaet TuebingenTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations