Perceptions of the System and Interdisciplinary Success
University of Maine
Interdisciplinary work is by its very nature a task fraught with uncertainty and ambiguity. Researchers enter bravely into such collaborations knowing that they face the daunting task of reconciling disparate points of view, developing a common language free of discipline-specific jargon, and pressure to develop “innovative” solutions to often well studied problems. In addition, the expectations and goals for interdisciplinary teams may be ill defined and/or in conflict. Consequently, interdisciplinary work is often a significant stressor for the researchers involved. Uncertainty, and the resulting stress, can impede participation in, and successful completion of, interdisciplinary research.
The SSI has a unique opportunity to provide an overarching system to guide the interdisciplinary efforts of the research teams, and the individual researchers, and to serve as a resource to manage this uncertainty. The goal of this sub-proposal is to apply key social psychological theories to understand how perceptions of the SSI system impact the success of interdisciplinary work and K/A.
Social psychological scholars have long been interested in understanding how social systems serve the needs of the individual members. A consistent theme of this research is that social systems that are perceived to be 1) legitimate, 2) predictable, and 3) relevant to their members are most successful in reducing uncertainty and anxiety (e.g., Uncertainty management theory, Lind & Van den Bos, 2002; Terror management theory, Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1997; Procedural justice, Tyler, 1994; System justification theory, Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004; Belief in a just world, Lerner, 1980; the transactional model of stress and coping, Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). The interdisciplinary work of the SSI researchers should be facilitated to the extent that they perceive the SSI system to be legitimate, predictable, and relevant to their personal goals.