Chapter 10: Group Dynamics and Intergroup Relations
Group Dynamics: The social psychological study of groups and group processes.
o Group: Two or more persons who are interacting with one another and/or
influencing one another.
For example, passengers on a plane who do not interact with each other are not
considered as a “group” by social psychologists.
Individual Performance and Behaviour in Group Settings
Social Facilitation: The Effects of an Audience
People perform better in the presence of others, to an extent.
Social Facilitation: The effects of the presence of other people on individual
performance, which will usually be improved performance on simple tasks and impaired
performance on complex tasks.
The presence of other people increases the probability of Dominant Responses on a task
o Dominant Responses: The action that is most likely to occur in a situation or on
a task when the individual is alone.
When a task is simple or something done many times (i.e. driving a car), the dominant
responses will be correct ones or well-practiced ones (i.e. stepping on the gas, or
steering the car).
When a task is complex (i.e. someone juggling 3 balls for the first time), the dominant
responses are more likely to be incorrect one.
These tendencies will be heightened by an audience, but why?
o The presence of other people is physiological arousing, perhaps because the
individual is anxious about performing well in front of others.
Physiological arousal restricts individuals’ range of attention: people can
focus only on a few cues in the stetting.
Thus, when a task is simple, the restriction in attention blocks out
distractions and allows us to perform well.
In complex settings, the restriction in attention makes it difficult for an
individual to attend to all of the cues necessary for good performance.
Social Loafing: Goofing Off When Others Can Do the Work
Social Loafing: The reduction of effort that people often exhibit when working in a
group where individual contributions are unidentifiable.
In contrast to social facilitation (which involves arousal caused by presence of others),
social loafing is assumed to involve relaxation or reduced motivation (caused by
believing that one’s personal contribution is unidentifiable).
NOTE: The larger the group, the less effort individuals tend to exert on joint tasks.
o But, when people know that their own performance within the group will be
identifiable, social loafing disappears.
o Also, People are less likely to loaf when the group is important or meaningful to
them than when the group is relatively unimportant.
o Lastly when a group is composed of friends, social loafing declines. Gender and Cultural Differences in Social Loafing
Men are more likely to do it than women. In fact, using groups composed of ONLY
women have generally found no evidence of social loafing at all.
o Women are more group oriented and more concerned about the collective
outcomes than are men, who tend to be more individualistic in their
o Women’s focus on group outcomes motivates them to exert maximum effort,
even when their individual contributions are not identifiable.
More social loafing is found in individualistic countries like Canada and USA, compared
to collectivist countries like China and Japan.
Deindividuation: Immersion in a Group
Feelings of anonymity contribute to social loafing.
Deindividuation: A psychological state in which people lose their sense of personal
identity and feel immersed in a group.
When people are deindividuated, they are more likely to engage in socially undesirable
behaviour. It “releases” them from their normal ethical constraints.
How deindividuation affects behaviour:
o 1) Deindividuation weakens people’s inhibitions against performing harmful
disapproved actions (i.e. taking extra candy from a unprotected bowl on
Halloween because the person taking the candy can’t be indentified).
o 2) Deindividuation heightens people’s responsiveness to external cues, which
may be either negative or positive.
o 3) Deindividuation increases people’s adherence to norms that emerge in a
group (i.e. riots, people think it’s okay to go against authority because everyone
DECSION MAKING IN GROUPS
Groupthink: Bad Decisions Because of Pressure to Agree
Groupthink: A way of thinking that can occur in decision-making groups when pressure
to agree leads to inadequate appraisal of options and poor decisions.
o Happens when members of a group are highly motivated to agree with the
leader and with one another, they do not express their reservations openly and
do no not criticize one another.
o Because everyone in the group engages in this way, everyone believes that
everybody else in the group strongly supports the decision. The result can be
o Groupthink is most likely to occur in a group that is highly cohesive (acts as
whole). Groupthink happens for 3 factors:
o 1) Group Cohesiveness: The combined strength of all forces acting on members
of a group to remain in the group.
In highly cohesive groups, members are strongly motivated to remain: if
they like the other members, membership is prestigious, and/or they
receive tangible benefits from being in the group.
Thus, members do not want to be excluded from the group.
o 2) Directive Leader
Directive leaders openly express their own opinions – often before any
discussion has occurred – and control subsequent conversation in the
When a leader is highly directive, group members know exactly where
he or she stands, which puts pressure on them to agree.
o 3) High Stress
Stress can arise for several reasons, including when a group faces
external threat or when there is time pressure to make a decision.
Whatever the cause, stress makes members feel even more pressure to
follow the leader’s options and to avoid rocking the boat.
NOTE: Symptoms of Groupthink (Table 10.1, p. 382)
Avoiding Group Think
1) The leader should be nondirective and allow other group members to express their
opinions before stating his or her view.
2) A norm of openness should be established in the group (have a “devil’s advocate” in
the group if necessary).
3) People from outside the group should be included in the decision making process.
Group Polarization: Moving Toward the Majority View
Group Polarization: The tendency for group discussion to strengthen the initial leanings
of the members in a group.
o Whatever position or option is preferred (pre-discussion) by the majority of
members, it will tend to become even MORE widely preferred after group
Causes of Group Polarization
o 1) The Arguments that are Presented during the Group Discussion.
People usually argue in favour of their own view on an issue. This means
that the majority of arguments offered during a discussion are likely to
support whatever view was predominant before the discussion began.
Therefore, group members are more likely to be persuaded in the
direction of the arguments. o 2) People’s Desire to Appear Knowledgeable and Intelligent
****(NOT compatible with the first explanation)****
Group discussion lets everyone know each other’s positions; members
learn which view is endorsed by the majority. There is then social
pressure to move in the direction of the preferred view, because
members do not want to be appear informed or unyielding.
NOTE: These two causes parallel with the concepts of informational influence and
normative influence (chapter 8).
o Group discussion leads to polarized judgments because embers of the group use
members’ arguments as a source of information (informational influence) and
because they feel social pressure to move towards the dominant view
Minority Influence: The Power of Few
The minority view in a group can sometimes profoundly be influential than the majority.
Confidence and Persistence
Minorities can only be successful if they are firm and resolute in their position. They
must show that they are confident in their view and will not yield to majority pressure.
At the same time as remaining resolute, minorities should try to avoid appearing too
rigid, or extremist, or impervious to information. Instead they should seem reasonable
and logical, but also resolute in their opinion on the issues.
o One way to achieve this is by agreeing with the majority on other issues, this
allows the minority group more credibility when they disagree, because they
have shown that they do not always hold deviant views.
Unique Effects on Minority Influence
Minorities have a special kind of influence on others in the group. Exposure to a
minority view stimulates divergent thinking.
o Divergent Thinking: Novel, creative thoughts that consider alternative
approaches to a problem.
This type of thinking makes the majority to reevaluate their decision, and gives them the
perception that different views on the same issue are possible.
Majorities elicit convergent thinking
o Convergent Thinking: Standard or typical approaches to a problem.
When exposed to a majority, people are pressured to conform to the majority view, as
well as to suppress counterarguments.
Also, seeing someone express a minority judgment on a previous issue, increased
participants’ willingness to disagree with the majority on the next issue. LEADERSHIP
Who is selected for as the leader in a group? And who makes an effective leader?
o The issues of emergence and effectiveness have been examined by 3 different
perspectives on leadership:
Trait: Focuses on the characteristics of people who become leaders
Situational: Focuses on the external factors that influence the selection
and effectiveness of leaders
Interactionist: Investigates the combined effects of traits and situational
Definitions of Leader and Leadership Effectiveness
Defining a Leader
1) In some groups, the leader is the person who holds formal position of authority,
perhaps involving an election (i.e. Prime Minister, Chairperson, CEO, etc.)
2) If there is no formal leadership position, another way to define a leader is to say that
he or she is the person who is so-named by most members (i.e. in a clique of a group,
ask the members by voting who is the leader).
3) A third way to identify a leader is in terms of his or her impact on the group. For
instance, the leader could be considered the person who exerts the most influence on
members of the group, or who can best motivate members to work hard, or to behave
in a certain way.
o In this case, there might be an “official” leader who fills the position of
authority, but there could also be a “real” leader who inspires the members.
o Transformational Leaders: Are leaders who transform the members of their
group – these leaders stimulate fundamental changes in how members view
themselves and the group.
Functions Fulfilled by Leaders
The various functions fulfilled by leaders fall into 2 major categories: Task Achievement
and Group Maintenance.
o Task Achievement Function: Aspects of leadership that relate to group
productivity. Such as:
Providing expert advice or training, planning how to achieve the goals of
the group, distributing tasks to members, developing polices, etc…
o Group Maintenance: Aspects of leadership that relate to morale in the group.
Motivating members to remain committed, resolving disputes between
members, and providing counseling to troubled members.
In some groups, different individuals may emerge to fulfill these 2 functions, and are
referred to as the task leader and the socioemotional leader.
o Task Leader: An individual who takes charge of issues related to productivity.
o Socioemotional Leader: An individual who takes charge of issues related to