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Cohesion and Development

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PSYC 3430
Peter Papadogiannis

Chapter 5 – Cohesion and Development - Cohesion can claim to be group dynamic’s most theoretically important concept o Without at least some degree of cohesion a group would disintegrate o The health of the group Components of Cohesion - Cohesive groups are unified and morale is high - Members enjoy interacting with one another and they remain in the group for prolonged periods of time - Cohesion is a multi-component/multi-level process with a variety of indicators - Four interrelated processes:  Social relations  Task relations  Perceived unity  Emotions Social Cohesion o Lewin described cohesion as early as 1943 as:  The forces that keep groups intact by pushing members together as well as the countering forces that push them apart o Lewin and Festinger focused on one force more than all the others:  Attraction  Asked group members to identify all their good friends and calculated the ration of ingroup choices to outgroup choices • The greater the ratio, the greater was the cohesiveness of the group o When cohesion is based on individual level attraction and those who are liked leave the group, the remaining members are more likely to quit. o When cohesion is based on group level attraction, people remain members even when specific members leave the group. o Social Attraction – a liking for other group members that is based on their status as typical group members.  Unlike personal attraction which is based on relationships between specific members  Social attraction is depersonalized since it is based on admiration for individuals who possess the kinds of qualities that typify the group Task Cohesion o Many theorists believe that cohesion has more to do with members’ willingness to work together to accomplish their objectives, than it does with positive interpersonal relations o Teamwork – the combined activities of two or more individuals who coordinate their efforts to make or do something. In many cases, each individual performs a portion of the task, which when combined with others’ work, yields a total group product o Military squads or flight crews are unified by shared drive to accomplish goals o Collective efficacy  the belief, shared among a substantial portion of the group members that the group is capable of organizing and executing the actions required to attain the group’s goals and successfully complete its tasks. • A group whose cohesiveness is generated by a shared task focus tends to be high in collective efficacy o “We are fast on the ice” o “We can block effectively” Perceived Cohesion o Entitativity  The extent to which an assemblage of individuals is perceived to be a group rather than an aggregation of independent, unrelated individuals. o Group members often reveal their perception of their group’s unity in the words that they use to agree that there is “a feeling of unity and cohesion in this group.” Emotional Cohesion o As the positive and elevated mood of one person is picked up by the next, the group members eventually display a shared emotional experience o Terms used to describe group level emotional states include: • Élan  the emotional intensity • Morale • Esprit de corps (Positive affective tone) o A feeling of unity, commitment, confidence and enthusiasm for the group shared by most or all of the members o Helping team-mates, protecting the organization, making constructive suggestions Antecedents of Cohesion Social Cohesion  degree of attraction among members Task Cohesion  the degree to which group members coordinate their efforts to achieve goals Perceived Cohesion  sense of belonging and unity in group Emotional Cohesion  the intensity of the members’ communal emotions Some of the factors that set the stage for the emergence of cohesion in groups: Interpersonal Attraction o When individuals develop feelings of attraction for one another, they can turn a rudimentary group into a highly cohesive one  Proximity, frequency of interaction, similarity, complementarity, reciprocity, rewarding exchanges  SHERIF  boys summer camp experiment Stability of Membership o Cohesiveness tends to increase the length members remain in the group o Groups that are more stable are more cohesive o Robert Ziller  open groups and closed groups  Open group • A group whose boundaries are so permeable that membership varies considerably as members enter and leave the group • Less cohesive • Unlikely to reach a state of equilibrium  Closed group • A group whose boundaries are closed and fixed, resulting in membership that is relatively unvarying. • Often more cohesive Group Size o The smaller the group, the more cohesive it is o As a group increases in size, the number of possible relations among individuals increases so rapidly that members can no longer maintain strong, positive ties with all group members Structural Features o Cohesion is related to group structure in two basic ways 1) Cohesive groups tend to be relatively more structured ones 2) Certain types of group structures are associated with higher levels of cohesion than are others - The higher the proportion of ties to nongroup members relative to ties to group members, the lower the overall cohesiveness of the group
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