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Lecture 17

PSYC 3430 Lecture Notes - Lecture 17: Sociometry, Social Exchange Theory, Fide

Course Code
PSYC 3430
Peter Thompson

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Studying Groups
There is no one right way to do research, but most scientific enterprises require a) measuring
group and individual-level processes; b) testing hypotheses in case studies, experimental, and
nonexperimental designs; and c) developing theories that explain group processes.
Learning Objectives
2.1. Explain why measurement, research design, and theory are critically important in scientific research.
2.2. Define and give examples of observational measures of group dynamics.
2.3. Compare and contrast (a) participant, covert, overt, and structured observational methods; (b)
quantitative and qualitative measurement methods; (c) observational and self-report measures.
2.4. Use a structured observational system (e.g., IPA) to describe the behaviors observed in a group.
2.5. Use sociometry to describe the structure of a group.
2.6. Define and give an example of the following basic research designs: case study, experimental, and
nonexperimental (correlational).
2.7. List the key characteristics of an experiment.
2.8. Describe the basic features of an experimental study of a group phenomenon, being certain to identify
the independent and dependent variables.
2.9. Identify the key procedures required in a correlational (nonexperimental) study of a group
2.10. Interpret a correlation coefficient by explaining how it summarizes the nature and strength of the
relationship between two variables.
2.11. Debate the relative strengths and weaknesses of experimental and nonexperimental designs.
2.12. Describe the “unit of analysis” and interdependence problems a researcher faces when studying
groups rather than individuals.
2.13. Discuss the ethical issues raised by research on human groups and examine steps to take to
minimize those concerns.
2.14. Summarize the basic assumptions of each of the following general theoretical approaches to
studying groups, and describe one theory that illustrates each approach: motivation and emotion
perspectives, behavioral perspectives, systems perspectives, cognitive perspectives, and biological
Key Terms
bona fide group
case study
cognitive processes
correlation coefficient
correlational study
covert observation
dependent variable
evolutionary psychology
group-reference effect
Hawthorne effect
hierarchy of needs
independent variable
input–process–output (I–P–
O) model
Institutional Review Board
Interaction Process Analysis
overt observation
participant observation
qualitative study
quantitative study
reference group
self-reference effect
self-report measure
Studying Groups 17 Chapter 2

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social exchange theory
social network analysis
structured observational
Systematic Multiple Level
Observation of Groups
systems theory
Studying Groups 18 Chapter 2

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2-1. Observing Groups. Send students into the field to observe groups in vivo. Before they carry out their
observations remind them of the importance of studying only groups in public places and the need to
focus on group-level processes. It may be helpful to review with them a videoed group interaction,
pointing out the sorts of features that they should record and interpret.
Instructions. Find an aggregate of individuals in some public place. Observe the grouping of people for at
least 20 minutes, and be sure to take notes. Answer the following questions.
1. Provide the who, what, when, where, and how for your group. Who was in the group? What was the
group doing? What were the characteristics of the people in the group? Where did you find your
group? How were the people arranged in the physical environment?
2. What were the characteristics of the group (rather than the people in the group)?
a. Interaction: How were the members interacting with each other?
b. Interdependence: Did group members depend on each other? Did they influence one another?
c. Structure: Could you discern the group’s norms, roles, and status and communication patterns?
d. Goals: What was the group’s purpose?
e. Unity: Did the group seem to be cohesive? Do you think the members shared a sense of identity
with one another? Was it high in “entitativity (perceived groupness)?
3. Critique your study of the group, from a measurement standpoint. How could you have increased the
scientific accuracy and value of your observations?
4. Did anything about the group puzzle or surprise you? Did your observation raise questions that could
be answered through research?
2-2. Structured Observation. Help students understand and use a structured coding system in their
observations by reviewing one system in class. Play a videotape of a group discussion (such as a portion
of the group discussion in the film Twelve Angry Men) and demonstrate how each remark can be
classified using a structured observational rating system, such as Bales IPA or SYMLOG.
Instructions. Measure the patterns of communication among members or study the content of a group’s
discussion. Find a group to observe, such as a classroom discussing a topic (but not a classroom listening
to a lecture), a meeting of a governmental group, a meeting at your place of work, or even a group
featured in a television program or movie. Next, study the group’s communication patterns and the
content of the discussion.
1. Communication duration. Note the start time of the meeting, and, for each statement, indicate
how long the speaker holds the floor. If the communication is rapid and speaker changes rapidly,
use only frequency counts.
2. Communication analysis. Document who speaks to whom using a chart like the one shown below
to help you keep track of the information flow. When, for example, Erick speaks to Kelley, record
the interaction in the Erick-to-Kelley box. At the end of the meeting compute the percentage of
contributions of each member and general speaking patterns. If the communication rate is not too
great, you can also record how long each member speaks and turn-taking exchanges (who speaks
after who). Use the data you collect to draw conclusions about the group’s structure and process.
From Audrey Erick Jon Pat Kelley Group Total
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