Throughout high school I never really had to put in much effort in order to do well. I didn’t study that often, I never sought out my teachers for help; I pretty much just did the bare minimum and I never had a problem getting good grades. With almost a month of college now under my belt, I realize my work ethic really has to change. Since I don’t have a ton of experience with studying, I decided to research what the best way to study was: working in groups or working alone.
I came across a study done by Gregory Walton and Priyanka Carr, an assistant professor and graduate student at Stanford (here’s the article explaining the study). In their five experiments, they found that people who worked together were more motivated to succeed than those who worked by themselves. What the participants had to do was go into separate rooms where they were told they would work on a puzzle. One group of participants were told they would either get a tip from another participant or have to give one. The other group of participants were told they would receive a tip from one of the researchers. What the participants didn’t know was they would all receive the same tip made by someone who was not involved in the task. The people who thought they were being helped by another participant, or thought they were working together, were noted as being more interested in the puzzle, being less annoyed by the puzzle, and overall put more effort into the challenge. Walton and Carr explained that it’s not a competition or an obligation that motivates people, it’s about feeling like you’re part of a team.
Does this prove that I’m going to do better if I work in groups from now on? No, of course not. This study could be a complete fluke. However, it does provide evidence that it may work, so why not give it a shot?