Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




In a recent study by Burke (1961), the psychological effects of participation in task-oriented groups were studied. This study incorporated selected communication networks, the wheel, circle, and the all-channel, from a number of experimental arrangements that were conceived and developed by Bavelas (1950). Burke’s eighteen five-man groups were seated at a partitioned table containing slots in a center post through which written messages could be sent. This apparatus was similar in design to the table first used and described by Leavitt (1951). The groups worked on a task that required the members to find one symbol among five that was common among all five group members. Fifteen trials were given to each group.

Half of the groups were subjected to continuous success on trials 1-10. The remaining nine groups experienced intermittent success on trials 1-10. All groups experienced continuous non-success during trials 11-15. It was found that this induced success and non-success had a differential effect in terms of Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance.

Members of the intermittent success groups were more satisfied with their group’s performance during the last five trials than were members of the continuous success group. The reason given for this was that the individuals in the intermittent groups had reduced their dissonant feelings by expressing more positive attitudes about their groups than had members of the continuous groups.

Although the results of this study are encouraging, a limitation was found in the experimental design. The limitation was there was not a sufficient difference between the continuous and the intermittent success schedules to permit a consistently significant difference in satisfaction among the groups’ members. It will be the purpose of this study to give conclusive evidence of the reliability of Burke’s findings.