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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 Group Processes

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Simon Fraser University
PSYC 260
Janelle Jones

PSYC 260 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 8 – Group Processes Group – a collection of three or more people who interact with one another and are interdependent, in the sense that their needs and goals cause them to rely on one another - People who have assembled together for a common purpose Why People join groups - Need to belong - Groups become an important part of our identity - Also plays a role in motivating people to become involved in social change The Composition and Function of Groups - Most social groups range in size from 3 to 6 members – if groups are too large, you cannot interact with all the members - Members tend to be alike in age, sex, beliefs, and opinions - Two reasons for the homogeneity of groups o Many groups attract people who are already similar before they join o Group operates in ways that encourage similarity in the members - Social Norms – are powerful determinants of human behavior; if one deviates too far from the norm, they may be shunned or excluded from the group o Specify how all group members should behave - Social Rules – shared expectations by group members about how particular people in the group are supposed to behave o Specify how people who occupy certain positions in the group should behave o i.e. how the boss should act and how an employee should act o Can be helpful because people know what to expect from each other o Potential costs  People can get so into a role that their personal identity and personality are lost (i.e. in Zimbardo’s study) - Gender Roles – all societies have expectations of how people who occupy the roles of women and men should behave o Women are expected to assume the role of wife and mother, with only limited opportunities to pursue other careers o The average fully employed woman makes 71.4 cents for every dollar earned by a man who works similar hours o Women are expected to “do it all” – maintain a career, raise children, clean the house, attend to their husband’s needs, etc o Some reports claim that when a husband does chores, the couple’s sex life gets a boost! - Group Cohesiveness – qualities of a group that bind members together and promote liking among them o The more cohesive and close a group is, the more its members are likely to stay in the group, take part in group activities, and try to recruit like-minded members o Drawback: the members’ concern with maintaining good relations can get in the way of finding good solutions to problems HOW GROUPS INFLUENCE THE BEHAVIOR OF INDIVIDUAL 1. Social Facilitation – the tendency for people to do better on simple tasks, but worse on complex tasks, when they are in the presence of others and their individual performance can be evaluated o Puts a person in the spotlight o Simple versus difficult tasks – people and animals do worse in the presence of others when the task is difficult o Arousal and dominant response  The presence of others increases physiological arousal (more energy)  When aroused, it is easier to do something simple than something complex or new o Role of arousal in social facilitation  Other people cause us to become particularly alert and vigilant  They make us apprehensive of how we are being evaluated (evaluation apprehension)  They distract us from the task at hand 2. Social Loafing – the tendency for people to do worse on simple tasks, but better on complex tasks, when they are in the presence of others and their performance cannot be evaluated o Blends someone into a group, making them less noticeable o The tendency to loaf is stronger in men than in women – maybe because women are higher than men in relational interdependence o The tendency to loaf is higher in Western cultures than in Asian cultures 3. Deindividuation – the loosing of normal constraints on behavior when people are in a group, leading to an increase in impulsive and deviant acts o Getting lost in a crowd or hiding behind anonymity on the internet can lead to an unleashing of behaviors that individuals would never dream of doing otherwise o Why deindividuation leads to impulsive and often violent acts  The presence of others, or the wearing of disguises or uniforms, makes people feel less accountable for their actions because it reduces the likelihood that any individual will be singled out and blamed  Presence of others lowers self-awareness, thereby shifting people’s attention away from their moral standards  Increases the extent to which people obey the group’s norms GROUP DECISIONS - Groups will do better than individuals if (1) people are motivated to search for the answer that is best for the entire group and not just for themselves and (2) if they rely on the person with most expertise Process Loss – any aspect of group interaction that inhibits good problem solving - Failure to share unique information – groups tend to focus on the information they share and ignore unique information known only to one or a few members of the group - The tendency for groups to fail to share important information known only to some of the members can be overcome if people learn who is responsible for what kinds of information and take the time to discuss the unshared data - Transactive Memory – the combined memory of two people that is more efficient than the memory of either individual - Groupthink – a kind of thinking in which maintaining group cohesiveness and solidarity is more important than considering facts in a realistic manner o Most likely to occur when preconditions are met such as (1) when the group is highly cohesive, (2) isolated from contrary opinions, and (3) ruled by a directive leader who makes his or her wishes known (Irving Janis, 1972)  Present research shows that groupthink may occur without these conditions  It may be enough for people to identify strongly with the group, have clear norms about what the group is supposed to do, and have a low
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