WhiteOut Take-Home Final

Due: Wed March 17, by 11 AM, Holly's office (357) or 131 Straub


Analyze a specific aspect of group dynamics for the Edges group in Whiteout. Pick any topic that we have covered in class or is discussed by Forsyth, in the Packet readings, or in other readings on group dynamics. It is not NECESSARY to cite anything beyond the text, material from lecture, and assigned readings, however. The paper should have a clear thesis. Support this thesis by analyzing specific evidence from the book.


Thesis: In Whiteout, Edges members use different communication media to regulate the psychological distance between them and also to adjust to needs for richer information, as suggested by the task-media fit model in Hollingshead, McGrath, & O'Connor (1993). In a given exchange, members' choice of communication medium reveals what distance and richness of information they want and need.

This is evident in the very first chapter, in which Pilar appears as a full holograph to apologize to Signy. She is trying to show closeness in a relationship that is very strained. Because of geographic distance, she cannot meet face to face, but she is trying to get as close as possible to a fully rich medium. This is in line with the suggest that negotiating conflicts is best face-to-face. When the emotional conflict gets intense, however, Pilar shuts off and goes off-line. Signy tries to pursue her, but the only communication medium open is to type a message. Later, Paul and Signy have an exchange using typed messages about a new contract. A computer exchange like this is a good fit to generating ideas and plans, according to Hollinghead et al. When Paul wants to get a better reading of what Signy is thinking and feeling, however, he switches to voice communication. This is motivated by a need for richer emotional information not available in the typed words.

Note: Task-media fit model in Hollingshead, McGrath, & O'Connor (1993) covered in lecture.

Another Example:

Thesis: The mismatched conflict styles of the different Edges members are responsible for the main problems that they have in communicating with each other and coordinating their work, and reveal the different amounts of concern members have for themselves versus the other members. In the first chapter, for example, Pilar illustrates yielding and then avoiding, two conflict styles that show a low concern for self (Forsyth, p 260).

**See other side for more**

Another Example:

The development of the Edges group across the time covered by the novel shows a close match to Worchel's (1994) cyclical development model, with a few notable exceptions in the ordering of the phases.

Note: Worchel model covered in lecture.


This should be 3-4 pages of doublespaced text. Include a title page with title, your name, your group number, and Arrow, Psych 457, Winter 99 on it. (Title page doesn't count as part of the 3-4 page limit.)

Use a running head and page numbers on the rest of the paper. Subheads may be helpful in showing the organization of your paper, but are optional. Give a list of any references cited on a separate page at the end (this page also does not count as part of the total).

Points and Grading

The final is worth 20 percent of your grade. It will be graded on a 40 point scale, as the research report was. Points will be distributed as follows:

1. Clear thesis and focus throughout 10 points

2. Understanding of group dynamics` 10 points

3. Insight into the Edges group 10 points

4. Format, quality of writing 10 points

Grading for 1:

Thesis needs to be clearly stated, easy to find, and the paper needs to stay focused on this thesis, so that the discussion all hangs together and makes coherent points that are logically connected.

Grading for 2:

The paper should demonstrate your understanding of group dynamics concepts related to your topic (as with the essays, for example, when you needed to show that you understood Steiner's typology or the norm development framework).

Grading for 3:

The paper should demonstrate your ability to APPLY group dynamics concepts to explain what is going on in a particular group--in this case, the Edges group in the novel. A main goal of the class is to develop your skills to apply theory to understand the complexity of actual groups.

Grading for 4:

Clear, concise, grammatical writing with a minimum of errors. Follows formatting instructions.