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Introduction to Group Dynamics

What is a group? What are some common characteristics of groups? What are the different types of groups? What are the different levels of analysis used in studying groups?

Chapter Outline
The Nature of Groups What is a group? Describing groups Types of groups The Nature of Group Dynamics Are groups real? Are groups dynamic? The multilevel perspective

Chapter Outline
The practicality of group Dynamics Topics in contemporary group dynamics

What is group dynamics?

The actions, processes, and changes that occur within groups and between groups over time. The scientific study of those processes. A field of inquiry dedicated to advancing knowledge about the nature of groups, the laws of their development, and their interrelations with individuals, other groups, and larger institutions.

What is a Group?
Two or more individuals who are connected to one another by social relationships.

Social Identity
Groups give rise to our social identity. Social identity aspects of the selfconcept that derive from relationships and memberships in groups; those qualities held in common by two or more people who recognize that they are members of the same group or social category. But more than that, they develop our HUMANITY.

Thomas Theorem
The theoretical premise by W. I. Thomas which maintains that an individuals understanding of a social situation, even if incorrect, will determine how he or she will act in the situation: If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.

Common Characteristics of Groups

Interaction What do people do when they are in groups? Two basic types of interactions: Relationship interaction: actions performed by group members that relate to or influence the emotional and interpersonal bonds within the group. Task interaction: actions performed by group members that pertain to the groups projects, tasks, and goals

Common Characteristics of Groups Interdependence: the state of being dependent to some degree on other people, as when ones outcomes, actions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences are determined in whole or in part by others.

What are some common characteristics of groups? Interaction: task and relationship Interdependence: sequential, reciprocal, mutual

Types of Interdependence
Mutual/reciprocal all members influence one another. Unilateral a leader influences others but is not influenced by them. Reciprocal/unequal a leaders influence over followers is substantially greater than followers influence on the leader. Sequential A influences B who influences C.

Common Characteristics of Groups

Structure: the underlying pattern of roles, norms, and relations among members that organize groups. Role a coherent set of behaviors expected of people who occupy specific positions within a group. Norm a consensual and often implicit standard that describes what behaviors should and should not be performed ina given context.

Common Characteristics of Groups

Goals members of a group are united in pursuit of common goals. Groups make it easier for people to attain goals.

Common characteristics of groups (continued) Structure: roles, norms, relations Goals: generating, choosing, negotiating, executing
McGraths Taxonomy of Group Tasks is based on 2 key dimensions: Choosing vs. Executing (Doing) and Generating vs. Negotiating

McGraths Taxonomy of Group Tasks

Common Characteristics of Groups

Unity, solidarity, or group cohesion: the strength of the bonds linking individuals to and in the group. Entitativity: the extent to which a group of individuals is perceived to be a group rather than an aggregation of independent, unrelated individuals (Donald Campbell, 1958); The quality of being an entity.

Factors that determine a groups entitativity

Common fate: do the individuals experience the same or interrelated outcomes? Similarity: Do the individuals perform similar behaviors or resemble one another? Proximity: How close together are the individuals in the aggregation?

Types of groups
Billions of groups in the world, but they can be classified into basic categories, or clusters Cooley (1907) drew a distinction between primary and secondary groups

Types of groups
Cooley (1907) primary secondary

Type of Group
Primary groups



Small, long-term groups characterized by face-toface interaction and high levels of cohesiveness, solidarity, and member identification

Families, close friends, tight-knit peer groups, gangs, elite military squads

Secondary groups

Larger, less intimate, more Congregations, work goal-focused groups typical groups, unions, of more complex societies professional associations (Cooley, 1907)

Types of Groups
Lickel, Hamilton, Sherman
Primary groups Social groups Collectives Categories

Primary Groups
Characteristics: small, long-term groups characterized by face-to-face interaction and high levels of cohesiveness, solidarity, and member identification. Examples: close friends, families, gangs, military squads

Social Groups
Characteristics: small groups of moderate duration and permeability characterized by moderate levels of interaction among the members over an extended period of time, often in goal-focused situations. Examples: co-workers, crews, expeditions, fraternities, sports teams, study groups, task forces.

Characteristics: aggregations of individuals that form spontaneously, last only a brief period of time, and have very permeable boundaries. Examples: Audiences, bystanders, crowds, mobs, waiting lines (queues)

Characteristics: aggregations of individuals who are similar to one another in some way, such as gender, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Examples: Asian Americans, New Yorkers, physicians, U.S. citizens, women

Types of Groups
Arrow and her colleagues offer a more fine-grained analysis planned vs. emergent
Concocted Founded Circumstantial Self-organizing

Planned groups Concocted

Deliberately formed by the members themselves or by an external authority, usually for some specific purpose or purposes Planned by individuals or authorities outside the group. Production lines, military units, task forces, crews, professional sports teams Study groups, small businesses, expeditions, clubs, associations


Planned by one or more individuals who remain within the group

Emergent groups

Groups that form spontaneously as individuals find themselves repeatedly interacting with the same subset of individuals over time and settings Waiting lines (queues), crowds, mobs, audiences, bystanders

Circumstantial Emergent, unplanned groups that arise when external, situational forces set the stage for people to join together, often only temporarily, in a unified group Selforganizing Emerge when interacting individuals gradually align their activities in a cooperative system of interdependence.

Study groups, friendship cliques in a workplace, regular patrons at a bar

Perceiving groups: people intuitively draw distinctions between groups some look groupier than others
Lickel, Hamilton, Sherman, and their colleagues asked people to rate many kinds of aggregations on a scale from 1 (not at all a group) to 9 (very much a group).

Type of Group



Intimacy groups

Small groups of moderate duration and permeability characterized by substantial levels of interaction among the members, who value membership in the group Work groups in employment settings and goal-focused groups in a variety of nonemployment situations

Families, romantic couples, close friends, street gangs

Task groups

Teams, neighborhood associations

Weak associations

Aggregations of individuals that Crowds, audiences, form spontaneously, last only a brief clusters of bystanders period of time, and have very permeable boundaries
Aggregations of individuals who are similar to one another in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Women, Asian Americans, physicians, U.S. citizens, New Yorkers

Social categories

The Nature of Group Dynamics

Are groups real? Floyd Allport (1924) argued that groups are not real entities He did not believe that there is such a thing as collective conscious

Collective Conscious
A hypothetical unifying mental force linking group members together; The fusion of individual consciousness or mind into a transcendent consciousness (lying beyond the ordinary range of percepion).

Collective Conscious
Emile Durkheim believed that individuals who are not part of groups (friendship, family, religious groups) can lose their sense of identity and are more likely to commit suicide.

Groups are Real

Group processes are real
groupmind, groupthink collective conscious Sherif's (1936) study of norm formation

Person A
Average distance estimates


Person B
Person C
Alone Group Session 1 Group Session 2 Group Session 3

Level of Analysis
The specific form of study chosen from a graded or nested sequence of possible foci. Theorists disagreed about the level of analysis to take when studying groups.
Sociological researchers looked at the group level Psychological researchers looked at the individual level of analysis

Level of Analysis
Individual level: focus on the individual (micro, psychological) Group level: focus on the group and social context (meso, sociological) Multilevel: adopts multiple perspectives on groups (macro, societal)

The Nature of Group Dynamics

Are groups more than the sum of their parts? Kurt Lewin field theory Premised on the principle of interactionism: each persons behavior (B) is a function of his or her personal qualities (P), the social environment (E), and the interaction of these two. B = f(P,E)

The Nature of Group Dynamics

Are groups dynamic? Dynamic systems are also fluid rather than static, they develop and evolve over time.

Groups are living systems

Tuckman's (1965) theory of group development
forming storming norming performing adjourning


Task Norming


Adjourning Forming

The Nature of Group Dynamics

How are groups dynamic?
They influence their members Groups have a profound effect on individuals. They shape actions, thoughts, and feelings

behavior of people in mobs, Stanley Milgrams experiment on obedience

The Nature of Group Dynamics

How are groups dynamic?
They influence society. Groups maintain religious, political, economic, and educational systems in society

Major Topics in Group Dynamics

Foundations of group dynamics:
Introduction Studying groups

Formation and development:

Inclusion and identity Formation Cohesion and development structure

Major Topics in Group Dynamics

Influence and interaction
Influence Power Leadership

Working in groups
Group performance Decision making Teams

Major Topics in Group Dynamics

Conflict Intergroup relations

Contexts and applications

Groups in context Groups and change Crowds and collective behavior


Groups in cross-cultural contexts; societal change; social and collective identities

Business and Industry

Clinical/Counseling Psychology Communication Criminal Justice Education Political Science Psychology Social Work Sociology Sports and Recreation

Work motivation; productivity; team building; goal setting; focus groups

Therapeutic change through groups; sensitivity training; training groups; self-help groups; group psychotherapy Information transmission in groups; discussion; decision making; problems in communication; networks Organization of law enforcement agencies; gangs; jury deliberations Classroom groups; team teaching; class composition and educational outcomes Leadership; intergroup and international relations; political influence; power Personality and group behavior; problem solving; perceptions of other people; motivation; conflict Team approaches to treatment; family counseling; groups and adjustment Self and society; influence of norms on behavior; role relations; deviance Team performance; effects of victory and failure; cohesion and performance

Groups in My Life
Think of the different groups that you are a part of. Start with the groups closest to you, that has the greatest impact on your life your family group. Go outward until you reach groups that you are a part of but play little influence over you.

Groups in My Life
Examine the influence of these groups in your life. What are the needs that are being met in these groups? (Based on the SelfDetermination theory) Autonomy Competence Relatedness