The show that our group has chosen is called Survivor. It is a reality show in which contestants are placed on an uninhabited island. On this island the contestants have to survive without food, water and shelter while they compete for the main prize ($ 1 Million), and other prizes such as immunity or luxury goods (i.e. meals, massages, and spending the night in a hotel). The show uses a system of elimination, allowing the contestants to vote off other tribe members after each round until two finalists remain. Then, the last 9 contestants who where voted off will form the jury and vote for their favorite finalist, who will then become the “Sole Survivor” and win $ 1 Million. We chose to observe the group in episode 12 of the Survivor: Palau (United States version). This group consists of six people: Tom, Ian, Gregg, Caryn, Jenn and Katie.
Our team agrees that the group, as a whole, is strong both mentally and physically. However, the team is divided, because they are ultimately fighting for an individual purpose: the prize money. Mostly, there are two big alliances: Gregg and Jenn on one hand, Tom and Ian on the other hand.
More visible different opinions appeared when we had to provide impressions of each tribe member.
All of us support the idea that Ian is a team player, but very emotional and naïve. Our disagreement is whether Ian is physically strong or not, as we have no clear portrayal of his physical strength during the episode.
We also acknowledge that Caryn is weak physically and aware of her position in the group. Nevertheless, she is quite smart, her strategy being just to go along with Tom and Ian’s plan.
We admit that Gregg, although being one of the strongest contestants, is overconfident and trusts Katie too much to see the plot against him.
Tom is undoubtedly the person we agree most about. He is strong, tactical, older than the others and, consequently, more experienced. He is the ultimate survivor and has solid social skills.
We hold different opinions in both Katie and Jenn’s cases. The male half of the team believes that Jenn is a tactical player, whereas the female half sees her as relying too much on Gregg and not making any decisions. Even so, we agree that she is the strongest woman physically and has few displays of emotion.
The most controversial tribe member, from out team’s point of view is Katie. Some of us think that she is a good contestant while others think she is manipulative and playing an individual game. Although some see her as a strong player, others conceive her as relying too much on other tribe members and being emotional. We have not managed to reach a compromise with regards to Katie.
The evidence that we used to form our initial impressions of the group, individual contestants and their dynamics was very similar. The main evidence we all relied on was the Reward Challenge. This challenge clearly shows the relationship between the players and how they act towards their fellow contestants. They are all very polite when they eliminate their team member, most of the time they even apologize and make up fake excuses to eliminate a fellow contestant instead of being honest. Other evidence that we found was the fact that every player has his/her own group within the whole tribe, with whom they eat, discuss plans and strategies. This is the evidence that we found on why the group was not united.
We have not found manifestations of race discrimination during the episode, because all of the people who are part of the show are from the same race. Although we can argue about gender discrimination or age discrimination, there were no clear indications of age discrimination. The group consists of four members of approximately the same age and two other relatively older members. However, the two who are relatively older are not discriminated. Tom is accepted in the group and has a strong position. Caryn is a more solitary person. She is not fully part of the tribe, but this is due to the way the members play the game, rather than her being discriminated.
It is possible to discuss a slight form of gender discrimination, because the men are making the decisions. Still, the women are also strong because they have the right to vote on tribal council and play decisive roles in the alliances. For instance, Katie’s decision to betray Gregg, led to the later being eliminated.
On one hand, the biggest strength of the team is that everyone is equally motivated to reach the individual goal, because they want to fit in the tribe and not risk elimination. We all agree that the biggest strength of the group is the fact that all the members have the same reason to work together. The goal is probably the only motive why all the members want to work together. This means that everyone does their day to day chores and socializes with the others. There are different tasks on the island that need to be done like boiling water, collecting food, fishing etc. Each member is doing something, which is a good example of teamwork. No one wants to be disliked, because all of them want to reach as far as possible in the game. This is mentally a big challenge because it is a psychological game they are playing. But all the members are strong enough to deal with that.
On the other hand, their individual goals might become a weakness. The goal is to win the million dollar prize. Working together as a team is just a way to reach this goal. So, having the same goal makes the members work together, but it also makes them play a though game. Nobody can be trusted, alliances are formed and people are lying to each other. Consequently, the team’s biggest weakness is the lack of trust. Due to the fact that everyone wants to be liked and fit in, they are not always completely honest and are certain that the others are doing the same. It is hard to build a relationship with someone they don’t trust.
To improve the performance of the group we observed, we would suggest the following strategies: stop forming alliances; encourage the interaction between people who are normally not working together; stimulate members to be more open and honest to each other and, finally, we think it would be effective if the whole team would win the prize.
Together, we thought about what would be a good strategy for the group, to make them work better with each other. We found out that the problem of the group now, is that although everybody is working together, nobody can be trusted. Because everybody still wants to survive on their own, everybody is still playing their own game. To change this situation the group has to come up with an idea. The idea would be that they make the unwritten deal to share the prize in the end. No matter who wins it, all the members are getting an equal part of it. When everybody would know that they are going to get a part of it, it doesn’t matter anymore who is going to win. Then their only worry would be that they survive the island, as a group. So again, they are all equally motivated to achieve their goal, but they don’t have to fight for it anymore. Everybody can be open and honest and the alliances are not necessary anymore.