Abstract：Self-monitoring is a personality that is closely related to interpersonal interaction. It describes the extent to which an individual is attentive to social cues, and accordingly regulates and adapts his/her own behaviors to achieve social appropriateness. In the process of group establishment and development, self-monitoring not only impacts the quality of an individual’s interpersonal relations, but may exert an influence on group interaction and inferiorly group outcome. However, prior studies have mainly focused on the effects of self-monitoring at the individual level but neglected its effects at the group level. Besides, considering the group dynamism, the effects of self-monitoring may unfold with the group developing. Nevertheless, prior studies have overlooked the role of time in explaining how self-monitoring impacts individuals as well as groups.
To fill in the gaps, this research focuses on new groups, and adopts a dynamic perspective to explore the effects of self-monitoring at both individual and group levels. Specifically, at the individual level, we attempt to examine how self-monitoring affects the positive sentiments other group members hold toward an individual and consequently affects the individual’s status attainment within the group; at the group level, we attempt to examine how group-mean self-monitoring affects group cohesion and consequently affects the performance of the group. In the meanwhile, we aim to explore whether the effect of self-monitoring on positive sentiments changes over time, as well as whether the effect of group-mean self-monitoring on group cohesion changes over time.
To test the hypotheses, we conducted a longitudinal study (three points in time) over a semester based on 32 freshmen dorms. The results showed that at the individual level, self-monitoring was positively related to positive sentiments other group members held toward the focal person, and self-monitoring had a positive indirect effect on the individual’s status attainment (indicated by status rating and friendship indegree centrality) via positive sentiments; at the group level, group-mean self-monitoring was positively related to group cohesion, and group-mean self-monitoring had a positive indirect effect on objective group performance in a collaboration task via group cohesion. Besides, we found that the positive effect of self-monitoring on group members’ positive sentiments toward the focal person increased over time (from Time 2 to Time 3).
Taken together, this research makes several contributions to existing literatures. First, we contribute to the self-monitoring literature by exploring the effects of self-monitoring at both individual and group levels. Our findings reveal that high self-monitors will not only build high-quality interpersonal relationships for themselves, but collectively enhance group cohesion. Second, we introduce the role of time and adopt a dynamic perspective to study self-monitoring. In fact, interactions among group members change with the group developing over time, and therefore the effect of self-monitoring may alter as well. Introducing the dynamic perspective captures this trend and deepens our understanding of self-monitoring. Third, in addition to expected contribution as proposed by prior research on status, our study suggests positive sentiments other group members hold toward a person are also important determinants of the individual’s status attainment within the group.