CHAPTER 1 NOTES
INTRODUCTION TO GROUP DYNAMICS
Group dynamics: the actions, processes, and changes that occur within groups and between
• Groups come to existence when people become linked together by some type of
• Group: two or more individuals that are connected by and within social relationships
• Sociologist John James study suggests that groups tend to gravitate to the smallest size,
Who are connected?
• The larger the group, the more ties are needed to join members to each other and the
• When the ties linking members are strong, the group is more enduring and its influence
on members is more extensive.
By and Within Social Relationships:
• When people are linked by a relationship, they become interdependent, for they can
influence one another’s thoughts, actions, emotions, and outcomes.
• A social relationship suggests that this interdependence is not caused by some
impersonal factor (proximity or common origin) but by the actual, imagined, or implied
presence of other human beings.
• Membership: the state of belonging to, or being included in a social group; also the
collective body of all members of a group.
• Social Network: a set of interpersonally interconnected individuals or groups.
Focus 1.1: E-groups: The reality of Online Groups:
• Are people who have never seen each other face-to-face but only communicate through
computers considered to be a group? Yes until research suggests otherwise.
o Online group: two or more individuals who interact with each other solely or
primarily through computer based information technologies rather than through
o Offline groups: two or more individuals whose interaction with each other occur
primarily or solely in conversational, face-to face situations and not via computer
• Task interaction: the conjointly adjusted actions of group members that pertain to the
group’s projects, tasks and goals.
• Relationship interaction: (socioemotional interaction) the conjointly adjusted actions
of group members that relate to or influence the nature and strength of the emotional
and interpersonal bonds within the group, including both sustaining (social support,
consideration) and undermining actions (criticism, conflict)
• Members of a group are united by their common goals.
• The groups Bales studied spent the majority of their time (63%) dealing with goal-related
activities. • FOUR TYPES OF GROUP GOALS AND GROUP TASKS:
o Generating: concocting strategies, producing new ideas, developing plans,
creating novel solutions.
o Choosing: selecting between alternatives, settling on a single option among
many, making a choice.
o Negotiating: managing differences of opinions, resolving conflicts and disputes,
o Executing: taking action, carrying out a plan, making something, performing a
• The most effective groups are the ones that are most conscientious when examining
their purposes and procedures.
• Mutual dependence, as when one’s outcomes, actions thoughts, feeling and
experiences are influences to some degree by other people.
o Interdependence can be:
Symmetrical: influence among member is equal and reciprocated.
Hierarchical: person at the top influences those at the bottom and there
is no reciprocity.
Hierarchical with unequal reciprocity: those at the bottom might
influence the one at the top to a degree, but the one at the top influences
those at the bottom to a much greater degree.
Sequential: A influences B, B influences C but there is no reciprocity
• Group members not connected at random, but in organized and predictable patterns
• Group Structure: the persistent and interrelated features of a group, such as roles and
norms that influence the functioning of the group as a whole and create regularities in
the interactions of its members.
• Roles: A socially shared set of behaviours, characteristics and responsibilities expected
of people who occupy a particular position or type of position within a group; by enacting
roles, individuals establish regular patters of exchange with one another that increase
predictability and social coordination. (Leader, follower, information seeker, information
• Norms: a consensual and often implicit standard that describes what behaviours should
and should not be performed in a given context.
• A group is an entity that forms when interpersonal forces bind the members together in a
unit with boundaries that mark who is in the group and who is outside of it.
• Group Cohesion: the solidarity or unity of a group resulting from the development of
strong and mutual interpersonal bonds among members and group level forces that
unify the group, such as shared commitment to group goals.
• Without cohesiveness, the group would disintegrate and cease to exist. TYPES OF GROUPS
• Primary Groups:
o A small, long term group characterized by frequent interaction, solidarity and high
levels of interdependence among members that substantially influences the
attitude, values and social outcomes of its members. ( families, good fiends)
o primary groups protect members from harm, care for them when they are ill and
provide them with shelter and sustenance
o They create a connection between the individual and society at large. They
create a “we”
o Examples of Primary groups: close friends, families, gangs, military squads….
• Social Groups:
o A relatively small number of individuals who interact with one another over an
extended period of time such as work groups, clubs and congregations.
o They are larger than primary groups and more formally organized. There is
shorter duration and less emotional involvement.
o Are often task-oriented: their primary purpose is the performance of tasks rather
than enjoying relationships.
o Examples of social groups: coworkers, expeditions, fraternities, study groups…
o A relatively large aggregation or group of individuals who display similarities in
actions and outlook. A street crowd, a line of people, a panicked group escaping
a fire are examples of collectives, as are more widely dispersed groups (listeners
who respond similarly to a PSA)
o Examples of Collectives: audiences, bystanders, crowds, mobs…
o A social category I a perceptual grouping of people who are assumed to be
similar to one another in some ways but different in some ways from individuals
who are not member of that group.
o Members of the same social group or category often share a common identity
with one another; they know who belongs to their category and who does not.
o Social Identity: an individual’s sense of self derived from relationships and
memberships in groups; also, those aspects of self that are assumed to be
common to most of the members of the same group or social category.
o Conflict can arise when the sense of us and we interacts with the sense of them
and they. (people who belong to different categories)
o Examples of categories: Asian Americans, New Yorkers, Women, Men…
There are distinctions between diverse types of groups.
• Entitativity: Seeing groups:
o Social psychologist Donald Campbell coined this term to describe the apparent
cohesiveness or unity of an assemblage of individuals, the quality of being a
single entity rather than a set of independent, unrelated individuals.
We don’t see an automobile to be 4 wheels, a trunk, doors, hood etc.; we
perceive it as one single thing: a car. o Entitativity is influenced by similarity, proximity and common fate, as well as such
perceptual cues as pragnaz (good form) and permeability.
• Types of groups and Entitativity:
o People are more likely to consider aggregations marked by strong bonds and
frequent interactions among members to be groups, but less certain that those
aggregations such as crowds, waiting lines or categories qualify as groups.
• Entitativity’s Implications:
o The THOMAS THEOREM: the theoretical premise, put forward by W.I Thomas,
which maintains that people’s understanding of a social situation, even if
incorrect, will determine their reactions in the situation. “If men define situations
as real, they are real in their consequences”
o This idea of seeing a gathering of people as true groups and not as single
individuals triggers psychological and interpersonal changes.
Entitativity changes people’s perceptions of their relationship to their
group because it causes members to identify with the group and its goals,
values the importance of membership an