ch. 8 - group processes

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17 Dec 2010
Chapter 8: Group Processes
What is a group?
Group: a collection of 2 or more people who interact with each other and are interdependent, in
the sense that their need and goals cause them to rely on each other
Groups are people who have came together for a common purpose
Why do people join groups?
Forming relationships with other people fulfills a number of basic human needs
In our evolutionary past, there was a substantial survival advantage to establish bonds with other
oPeople who bounded together were better able to hunt and grow food, find mates, and
care for children
People in all cultures are motivated to form relationships with other people and to resist the
dissolution of these relationships
Groups to which we belong even play an important role in defining who we expect to be in the
oFeeling a part of a university was association with positive self-esteem and well being
Group membership also plays an important role in motivating people to become involved in social
Those who identify most strongly with their group are most likely to engage in social action
The composition and functions of groups
Most social groups are from 2-6 members
If groups become too large, you cant interact with all of the members
oEx. the college or university you go to is not a social group because you are unlikely to
meet and interact with every student there
Another important feature of group is that the members tend ot be alike in age, sex, beliefs,
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Theres 2 reason for homogeneity of groups
oFirst, many groups attract people who are already similar before they join
oSecond, groups operate in ways that encourage similarity in the members
Social norms
social norms are powerful determinants of human behaviour but if people go against them, they
can be pressured to leave the group
Social roles
Social roles: shared expectations by group members about how particular people in the group are
supposed to behave
Norms specify how all group members should behave, roles specify how people who occupy
certain positions in the group should behave
A boss and an employee in a business occupy different roles and are expected to act in different
way in that setting
Roles can be very helpful because people know what to expct from each other
When members of a group follow a set of clearly defined roles, they tend to be satisfied and
perform well
There are potential costs to social roles
oOne cost is that people can get so into a role that their personal identity and personality
are lost
oSocial roles can be so powerful that they can take over our personal identities and we
become the role we are playing
Ex. the study where students had to take on roles of prisoners and guards
However, not all the people are cause in their social roles and unable to resist
But most of us would be unable to resist the social influences in powerful
situations and would perform acts we thought we were incapable of performing
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oAnother cost is acting inconsistently with the expectation associated with those roles
Ex. part of the role of being a man in our society involves not wearing female
attire or even carrying a purse
Gender roles
All societies have expectations about how people who occupy the roles of women and men should
In many cultures, women are expected to assume the role of wife and mother with only limited
opportunities to pursue other careers
Occupations aspirations of boys and girls are influenced by traditional gender-role expectations
oEx. male students said that if they were a girl people would expect them to do womens
work like clean the house or be a secretary
oSo it showed that women are still constrained by expectations that they will pursue
traditions occupations and that child care and housework remain their responsibility
Theres problems when women are expected to everything like raising children, maintaining a
career, etc
Research shows that the more husband engage in household chores and errands, the better their
wives emotional health
Roles that people play, and the expectations that come with those roles, can have powerful effects
on feelings and behaviour
Group cohesiveness
Group cohesiveness: qualities of a group that bind members together and promote liking among
if a group has formed primarily for social reasons like a group of friends who like to go to the
movies together on weekends then the more cohesive the group is, the better
the more cohesive a group is, the more its members are likely to stay in the group, take part in
group activities, and try to get like-minded members
one drawback of group cohesiveness is that group members concern with maintaining good
relations can get in the way of finding good solutions to problems
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