A crowdfunded way to study other researchers in Antarctica

A sociologist is utilizing crowdfunding to go to Antarctica for research:

So far Haeffner has reached about 12 percent of her overall goal. She has raised enough through GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website, to pay the initial deposit of the expedition…

Most of the researchers on the trip will be polar scientists who study ice cores, penguins and climate change. But because Heaffner is a sociologist, she will be studying the other researchers and how they work together.

“I want to collect more data from researchers in different disciplines of what they see are the barriers,” Heaffner said. “Where do they see that social science can play a role in their science and how we can think of other different research questions together to tackle climate change?”

Two quick thoughts:

  1. This sort of research is common within sociology: how do small groups and/or academic disciplines understand their own activities? As we all know from participating in all sorts of social groups, it is easy to simply be within groups and not think much about how they operate. However, bringing in an outsider who can observe and ask good questions could lead to insights that would help the group (particularly task-oriented ones like a team of researchers) move forward.
  2. The main purpose of this article is to point out the use of crowdfunding for research funding. Haeffner is asking for $4,500 and you can read about her goals and donate here. She isn’t asking for a lot of money but she also isn’t promising Kickstarter type returns to those who donate though contributions could be viewed as leading to important research on a current topic. In the long run, I wonder if receiving funding through such sources would be viewed by scientists as more or less freeing.

Unselfish people not liked by fellow group members

When working in small groups, each person plays certain roles. If someone is unselfish, recent research suggests this does not lead to popularity among other group members:

Unselfish workers who are the first to offer to help with projects are among those that co-workers like the least, according to four separate social psychology studies.

In the most recent study, entitled “The Desire to Expel Unselfish Members from the Group,” psychologists found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they “raise the bar” for what’s expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.

“It doesn’t matter that the overall welfare of the group or the task at hand is better served by someone’s unselfish behavior. What is objectively good, you see as subjectively bad,” said study co-author Craig Parks of Washington State University. The paper was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

This is an interesting finding. The article goes on to say that some of the other participants thought the unselfish person had ulterior motives. The unselfishness was unsettling for other participants who sounded like they expected each person to play for themselves rather than think about the greater good.
I wonder if these findings would be any different if the participants were not all undergraduate students. And what would it take for groups to accept the unselfish behavior – repeated offers to help from the unselfish member, time, failure on the part of other members?