PSYC 2120 Chapter 8: Group process
What is a group?
- A group consists of two or more people who interact with each other and are interdependent, in
the sense that their needs and goals cause them to influence each other.
- Groups have a number of benefits; in fact, there may be an innate need to belong that drives us to
establish bonds with other people.
- Groups tend to consist of members who are similar to one another, in part because groups have
social norms that people are expected to obey.
- Groups have well defined social roles, shared expectations about how people are supposed to
behave. The roles that people assume in groups, and the expectations that come with those roles,
are powerful determinants of people’s feelings and bahaviours in groups
- Group cohesiveness, qualities of a group that bind members together and promote liking between
members, is another important property of groups that influence the group’s performance
How groups influence the behaviour of individuals
- Simply being in the presence of other people has a number of interesting effects. When people’s
individuals efforts on a task can be evaluated, the mere presence of others leads to social
facilitation: their performance is enhanced on simple tasks but impaired on complex tasks. When
their individual efforts cannot be evaluated, the mere presence on simple tasks leads to social
loafing: performance is impaired on simple tasks but enhanced on complex tasks.
- Finally the mere presence on others can lead to deindividuation, which is the loosing of normal
constraints on behaviour when people are in groups, leading to an increase in impulsive and
Group decisions: Are two (or more) heads better than one?
- One of the major functions of groups is to make decisions. Are groups better or worse than
individuals at making decisions? It turns out that groups make better decisions than individuals if
they are good at pooling ideas and listening to the expert members of the group.
- Often however, process loss occurs, whereby the most expert individual is unable to sway the
rest of the group
- Groups often focus on the information they have in common and fail to share unique information.
This latter problem can be avoided if the group knows that individual members have been
assigned to specific areas of expertise. Many couples know that one member is responsible for
remembering things the other is not responsible for. Consequently, they have an effective
transactive memory, which is the combined memory of two