Our Report Group watched episode three of season 17’s “The Amazing Race”. This is a reality show, showing teams that are travelling throughout the world to eventually win the race and win one million dollars. There are eleven teams featured in the beginning of this show, nine of which still raced in our chosen episode. Every episode, the teams are competing to win the day challenge, to earn money that benefits them throughout the race. This assignment will mainly focus on the cooperation between Nick and Vicki in this particular episode, in which the teams compete in Ghana, Africa, to win the day task. Nick and Vicki were already a romantic couple for two years before the start of the series.
While observing the team individually, the members of our Report Group all found that Nick and Vicki used rough language towards each other, creating a hostile environment. We all agreed that Nick and Vicki’s attitude towards the competition differed a lot with how other teams seemed to operate. Also, we all agreed that Nick is a very pushy teammate, trying to push Vicki as hard as he can. He seems to be the leader of the team. This agreement lead us into a disagreement, because two members of our Report Group found his behavior negative, whilst one of the members saw his behavior as something that could be positive. This disagreement was based on lack of information, because we do not know if Nick has a status where his power wields over Vicki’s, or if his attitude is because he has the status of having the “ability to contribute to [the] group’s goals” (Robbins, Judge, & Campbell, 2010, p. 241). If Nick is trying to control Vicki’s behavior, he is wielding over her by using controlling language and bad communication. But if he is trying to stimulate and motivate her and knows this is the only way he can do that, then he is actually contributing to the team’s performance. We do not have enough information to decide which of the statuses he has.
The evidence our Report Group used to form an initial impression of the team, its members and its dynamics, was mostly based on how the communication went between Nick and Vicki, and later on also how the communication between their team and other teams. It became clear right away that Nick was the leader in their team, because of the way he structured (Robbins, Judge, & Campbell, 2010, p. 268) the challenge and told Vicki what to do and how to do it best.
Considering the stereotypes and prejudice in the series, both in the observed team as amongst other teams, we have found some clear examples. In the team we focused on, as elaborated on before, Nick is the leader and he leads Vicki. This is an old, widely known and acknowledged stereotype – namely one where the man dominates the woman. This stereotype can lead to a communication barrier caused by gender differences and is thus a very important form of stereotyping (Robbins, Judge, & Campbell, 2010, p. 304). Also, the first impression our Report Group had of our observed team, and probably many other people would have of Nick and Vicki, is that they are rough and hostile, mainly or only based on their appearance. During the last interview they gave during the episode, however, our Report Group found out that they actually acted quite the opposite towards each other. Where Nick was hostile during the challenges, he acknowledged his mistakes in the interview and said that Vicki actually did a very good job. In other teams, stereotypes and prejudices appeared as well. For example, there is a team built up of a father and his son, where the son treats his father as aged and not fit. We as a group then also perceived the father as weak, and therefore had a prejudice about ‘older’ men not being capable of performing the same way as the other participants. This perception of the father thus influenced our behavior, even though we did not have this prejudice before the scene (Giessner, Byington, & Hoever, 2010).
The observations we made of stereotypes in the observed team, lead us to examine the strengths and weaknesses in the team. As a strength, the team is very competitive and aggressive towards the game they are playing. Secondly, when there is a challenge that has to be done by one of the team members only, they decide quickly who has to do it based on what the individual strengths are. For example, the physical challenge in this episode is done by Nick because he has better endurance than Vicki. Another strength is, despite the vocabulary used to do it, they are rather supportive and motivating the other member. When spinning the bicycle wheel, Vicki first encouraged Nick to go faster. Then, when Vicki was unable to reach the end herself, Nick motivated her to do better. For the weaknesses, we found that them being a couple can be a weakness too. They know each other’s weaknesses, causing them to be more focused on seeing them. Frictions may arise due to living too closely and too intensely for a long time, which might cause them to use the language they use at the moment. Eventually this can work against their benefit. Another weakness is their lack of cultural knowledge. It took them a long time to point out Ghana on the map, which lead to them being behind on other teams. After deliberating, we have found that the team’s biggest weakness, according to us, is the way they communicate. Because of the tempers and the lack of patience of the team members, the team itself is busier with solving personal issues than reaching a certain goal. This might be an indicator of lack of diversity (Robbins, Judge, & Campbell, 2010, p. 270), because both members have the same approach to the challenges and thus do not come up with a better alternative. This means that failing only results in more failing instead of working to make it better. This takes up so much of their time, that they lose the main goal, which is winning the challenge.
This weakness might indeed be because the lack of diversity of personalities in the team, but we as Report Group believe that there are many solutions that would help the team while keeping both members. Firstly and most importantly, their interpersonal communication should be improved on multiple levels (Robbins, Judge, & Campbell, 2010, p. 292). Both the oral as non-verbal communicational within the team has signs of negativity at times. This could be done by training in communicating by an expert, or maybe even by simply showing them how they communicate with each other. Another option to make Nick and Vicki able to neglect their lack of diversity could be to ensure that the team focuses more on the benefits that come from prior knowledge about each other. Nick and Vicki already knew each other for quite some time, which means they are largely aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This could help them improve the decision making process, instead of it leading to fights.