Reducing prejudice in project teams with Agile methodologies

The following is an unedited extract from a recently submitted social psychology assignment. 

Elliott’s Brown Eye-Blue Eye Study, in which members of one group pre-judge those of another group, illustrates prejudice and discrimination. The study also demonstrates how easily the ultimate attribution error can be applied in a social situation, by assuming behaviours of members of a group are attributable to dispositions specific to that group, rather than to situational influences.

In software development, Agile development methodologies promote the use of collaborative, cross-functional, and self-organisation teams to deliver iterative value, rather than “big bang” delivery following gated activities by siloed teams (e.g. requirements, design, development, and testing).

The rituals between those stages are often for the purpose of handing over to the next siloed team, and are often met with misunderstanding, misinterpretation and negativity, feeding stereotypical views held between those groups. Agile reduces these rituals and resulting prejudices through cross-functional teams, which can include developers, testers, designers and business analysts.

As with the Robbers Cave Study conducted by Muzaref Sherif and his colleagues, where existing prejudices between two groups were reduced by giving them a shared higher purpose to work towards, Agile teams are able to cooperate with a shared understanding and goals, rather than those of separate practice-based groups. Similar to Elliott Aronson’s work with Jigsaw Classrooms, successful cross-functional and self-organising teams allocate their own work to complete towards stated goals, through a shared understanding of capabilities and capacity.

These measures in themselves do not guarantee a complete eradication of prejudice, however Agile also places an emphasis on frequent inspection and adaption, making problems visible to the team, so they can then be addressed by the team.


Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., Namy L. L., & Woolf N. J. (2013). Psychology: From inquiry to understanding (3rd Ed.). Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Education.

Trim a word here, delete a sentence there. Generalise everything to Agile to avoid explaining Scrum and Lean concepts. It’s tremendously difficult to synthesise an idea demonstrating my understanding of the concept at hand, tied to a real life example, in around 250 words. How succinctly can you do that without losing meaning?

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