Introduction to Group Dynamics:
Group dynamics are the influential actions, processes and changes that occur within and between groups. Joining groups is the most important tendency for people. To understand people, we must understand group dynamics.
Inquiries into the questions about groups provide the scientific basis for the field of group dynamics
The first question is “What is a group?”
The second question is “What is the field of group dynamics?”
THE NATURE OF GROUPS
A group is a collection of human beings.
A collective based on some trait or task is not enough to be a group.
Groups must be connected by social and emotional relationships.
Therefore, a group is two or more individuals who are connected by and withing social relationships.
Two or More Individuals
James – Studied people in all sorts of public areas and concluded that groups gravitate towards the smallest number, two.
Group numbers influence group characteristics
Who are Connected
People can be connected in various ways, various depths, and not necessarily reciprocally
Number of ties = n(n-1)/2, where n is the number of people in the group
Note that, if not reciprocal, A linking to B doesn’t mean B is linked to A.
When links are strong, the group is more enduring
Weak ties however, allow members access to knowledge outside their core groups
By and Within Social Relationships
Groups must contain relationships, and the term social relationship implies the presence, not just proximity of another. This type of relationship is called membership.
Note: Friendship, partnership, etc.
These relationships also set boundaries for groups
Who is a member, and who is not.
These boundaries distinguish social networks
A & B have a social relationship. C can join the network through a link with A or B.
All groups possess common characteristics
We start with common qualities before considering hidden ones
Groups necessarily must have within and between group interactions
There are two main types of interactions: Task and Relationship
Task interaction – all behavior focused on group plans, projects or goals.
Relationship/Socioemotional Interaction – all behaviors that sustain or degrade emotional bonds linking one member to another.
Bales used IPA to objectively record these interactions
Humans innately set goals for themselves, and groups are no exception
McGrath – There are four basic types of group goals
Generating , Choosing, Negotiating, Executing
The most effective groups are the ones that are conscientious when examining their purposes and procedures.
Members may be dependent on each other for various reasons
Their outcomes, thoughts, actions are determined partially by other group members
This interdependence can be minimal, or high. Examples are people at a checkout line vs. families and gangs. In one case, people can accomplish their goals without meshing with others, while in other cases, it is necessary due to length of contact and variety of situations.
Interdependencies can be asymmetric, unequal or hierarchical
Interdependence may also be sequential
Think of the pictures with the circles and arrows
Group members are connected in organized and predictable patterns
These regularities generate group structure – the persistent and interrelated features of a group such as roles and norms that influences the functioning of the group as a whole and create regularities in interaction of its members
Role - socially shared set of behaviors and characteristic and responsibles expected of people who occupy a particular positions. Enacting roles ensures common patterns of interaction which increases predictability. Examples: leader, follower.
Norm – consensual and implicit standard that describes what behaviors should and should not be performed in a given context. Roles and norms are