For our group observation we have chosen the reality show Survivor Nicaragua, episode 1. We picked the young group as it is more diverse and does not have an apparent leader. This makes the group more interesting and demanding for observation.
Generally speaking, Survivor is a reality television show, in which contestants are isolated in the wilderness. The show has two main parts. In the first part competitors are divided into two tribes. They have to compete as a team (in different games, one per 2-3 days) for cash, food and other prizes. The tribe that loses the game has to vote out one of its members. In the second part a new tribe is formed (from the members left of the two old ones) and the game becomes individual and everyone competes for themselves.
In Survivor Nicaragua - twenty Americans are isolated on the Nicaragua island, without clear water to drink, food, fire, place to sleep, soap and other basic goods. Surrounded by wild nature and animals, participants have to make their shanty, using trees, branches, leaves and other natural materials. They also have to try to start a fire and find food. As a team their goal is to win every game, so they get prizes such as food and goods which can help them survive and thereby avoid the elimination of a team member, so they are stronger in next challenges. As individuals their goal is to win $ 1 million prize and the title of the only true Survivor.
The picked group consist of 10 members: Shannon, Jud (Fabio), Kelly, Ben, Matthew, Brenda, NaOnka, Chase, Kelly B, Alina. All the group members are Americans and aged under 30 and ready for the challenge.
Our initial impressions of the group observed as a whole were quite similar. It was obvious that all participants are highly motivated and since they are all young, they have more similarities like: high energy level, good physical and mental condition. However, we found out that we did have different opinions for the reasons why some members of the group behave in a particular way. What kind of attitudes and believe systems lead to this behaviour?
To be more specific we differ in what we think about Kelly B. All of us thought that she has a really strong personality and does not give up even when she faces big constraints. However one of us thought that she doesn’t see the problem with her leg as a disadvantage and she wants to be equal to others and compete equally with them. On the other point of view, she knows that this physical problem is a big disadvantage in a game like this. That is why she was concerned and kind of nervous when she realised that other people easily had noticed that there is a problem with her, because of the way she walks. Thus she was worried whether this can effect their perception (first impression) of her and make members of her tribe vote out her first, if necessary.
We all agree that our first impression of the group observed is based on what we know about their social diversity (age, gender, race, ethnicity, physical abilities). Thus we figured out that the similarities between the members are their age: under 30, all want to win a million dollars and their nationality Americans . How they differ from each other, concerning this criteria: they are not from the same gender and race, also their physical abilities are not equal. On this bases contestants almost immediately started to form sub groups and even more interesting most of them did not want to engage with Kelly B-which is a clear example of prejudices and will probably lead to discrimination against her. However, Tyrone(from the older tribe) said that she should not be underestimated because the same rules apply to all. Another thing that influenced what we think about the people in the group is the way they talk about themselves and about the others. For instance, we all agree that Ben is a bit of arrogant, based on the way he talks and behaves. Another example is Fabio, who is already becoming a victim of discrimination, since other guys were talking about and making fun of him and not getting him seriously because he said something stupid.
In addition, maybe the clearest example of prejudices was when Shannon told that their tribe is better than the other one mostly because they are younger, thus physically stronger and he is sure that they have an obvious advantage, although he said that he did not want to underestimate them.
After combining our answers of the strengths and weaknesses it was very clear what the strengths and weaknesses of this group are. It’s obvious that they are very strong physically especially when you compare them to the other older tribe. And the fact that they found the medallion of power and won the challenge is a good boost for their self-esteem as a group, they have a good team spirit. The weaknesses are that they are already talking about who to vote out, and that’s not positive for the group, according to our own team. Furthermore a weakness of this team could be the fact that they underestimate the other group, they think: what could these oldies ever accomplish against us, but they could be wrong about that cause not all the challenges are about physical strength, you have to be mentally strong as well and thereby the other team has a very good leader, a former Superbowl winning coach.
The biggest weakness would be the fact that the team already is becoming a bit divided. Even though they won the challenge which means that they don’t have to vote out anybody out. They are talking about who they want to get rid off. It could happen that they won’t be one team anymore but just subgroups within the team, this is not positive for the team spirit and could get them in trouble at the next challenges.
Solutions for this problem could be one group member who stands out and gives the team clear directions and avoid that two individual groups within the tribe will be formed. Another solution could be to start winning the following challenges which is good for the team spirit. This means that because there is less tension the problems that can occur at any time are more easily solved.
The strategy we, as a team, think that is the best solution for this tribe is the first solution. Everything will become more clear with one leader, and this first episode shows that there are potential leaders. One of them should stand up and take the rest of the group by the hand. It’s well known that a group functions better with a leader.