The show that was chosen for this Group Observation exercise is Survivor: Nicaragua, which is the twenty-first seasons of the CBS reality television show Survivor. For the assignment, we have selected the third episode, which is called “Glitter in Their Eyes”. In this episode, two groups were depicted; the first one, which was the younger tribe is called “La Flor”, and the second one, which was the older tribe, is called “Espada”. The objective of each tribe is to win the Immunity Challenge, which in this episode was retrieving the ten barrels from the field, then arranging them in a triangle formation, and finally one tribe member would have to throw sandbags onto the top of each of these barrels. The team that would lose the challenge would go at the Tribal Council where one of its members would be eliminated. Our group decided to observe both groups, since both teams are playing in a stressful atmosphere and they have the same objective. As well, we thought it would be interesting to study if the age difference of the members has an impact on their strategies.
Our overall impressions about the groups that we observed were very similar. We all agreed that even if the contestants are divided into two groups and there are group challenges, this is still an individual game where they team up only for their personal advantage. For example, members start interacting between each other before the Tribal Council, where someone must be voted out. Also, we all agreed that their main objective was to survive the elimination and stay in the game until the end, so they can be the only survivors. However, when it came to the impression of each member, our opinions often differed.
Our initial impressions were based on the things that can be easily seen, such as the attitude that each member had towards the other member in their team. As well, we based our impressions on what the contestants were saying about the other members when they were one on one with the camera. For example, in the older tribe, Marty was always telling that he wanted to convince all the members of his tribe to eliminate Jimmy J. who was the leader of the “Espada” during the Tribal Council because Marty didn’t like him and that he saw him as a potential treat to him. Based on this, we can say that Marty was pretending to be nice to everyone but it was only for his own objectives.
At many moments, there were evidences of prejudice, discrimination, and use of stereotypes between the group members and between the two groups. For example, the older group was always stereotyped as the weak and aged ones who didn’t have enough strength and energy to compete against the young and strong tribe. On the other hand, the young tribe was labeled as the young and stupid ones who didn’t have enough experience and who were taking fast and stupid decisions. As well, Naonka has a prejudice towards Kelly B., she was also referring to Kelly as the handicap.
Strength: The teams are motivated to defeat their rivals. For example, at the competition teams forget about the discrepancies within them and as a whole unit attempt to win. Except competitions there’s no unity, therefore the main strength (unity) cannot be seen in their usual life on the island.
Weaknesses: There are many arguments within the teams. Naonka, for instance, doesn’t care about anyone and she’s the only one who explicitly claims that she wants to be the winner and everyone is for himself. One of the weaknesses of the older team is that they lack the strengths and abilities that the younger team has. Oppositely, the younger team is less stable; almost everyone wants to be a leader. If a team loses a competition for the immunity and has to take part in the voting, than before the voting the situation in a team is very tense, some people form some kind of groups in order to vote together against a specific person. This is a common theme in survivor season 21.
In a way, the group’s biggest strenght was their desire to win, this was also their biggest weakness, because this made the individual group members not partake in the group in the matter that they should’ve. There was not much handling of the many prejudices held against eachother, which made the team a lot weaker than they should have been. During the team challenges however you could see how they formed one team, working together, determined to win.
Looking at the way the group functioned, we as a team feel the performance of the team could be hightened with some simple strategy adjustments. First and foremost, instead of having one leader, that governs the rest of the group, have everyone be in part, a team leader. Many new innovative companies work with just such a structure. This makes the individual team members feel more important and more like part of the team. This brings up the productivity of the team as a whole