Social Relations and Morale in Small Groups

By Eric F. Gardner; George G. Thompson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
Pleasant Minus Unpleasant Verbal Associations as an Indicator of Morale

The theoretical notion underlying this approach is patterned after Skinner (64) concept of the reflex reserve, a response potential that is "exhausted" in a systematic and orderly fashion upon successive elicitations. We have hypothesized that fraternity members will build up reflex reserves of pleasant verbal associations proportional to their satisfactions in group living. Similarly, they will build up reflex reserves of unpleasant verbal associations proportional to their dissatisfactions with fraternity life. It is postulated that a fraternity with high morale will have members who characteristically acquire large response potentials of pleasant or favorable attitudes toward their social group and low reservoirs of unfavorable reactions.

The experimental approach of the present study is similar to the one used by Thompson and Kepler (69) in an investigation of the pleasant-unpleasant verbal potentials of pre- and post-adolescents. This latter research was based on the hypothesis that adolescents have a higher verbal-output potential for unpleasant and a lower reservoir of pleasant associations than preadolescents. This hypothesis seemed psychologically reasonable because of the special adjustment demands peculiar to the awakening or resurgence of sex- social needs during adolescence. The hypothesis was supported by data obtained in a manner suggested by Bousfield (5). This positive finding encouraged the present writers to

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