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Group Behavior, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

1. Six people waiting at a bus stop in complete silence does not qualify as a group from a psychological or sociological perspective. Some of the criteria are met–they are all waiting for the bus, therefore giving them a common goal. On the other hand, because they are in complete silence, and not interacting in any way, basic group dynamics, such as positive or negative conflict, cannot initiate. Therefore, no, these people at the bus stop are not considered to be a in a group.

2. One of the first things that should be addressed while looking at a group of men installing a heating system is their ability to communicate with each other. This, in psychological terms would be considered part of Interaction, Group Cohesion, as well as Goals and Structure, naturally leading to Social Identity. The Interaction perspective would directly analyze the dynamics of the group when it comes to strict communicational boundaries. Some things to consider would be a language barrier, or just overall how clearly the verbal communications are conveyed from the top down. This now deals Structure–the importance here would be on leadership. Once a leader is established, one can start to break down the overall structure of the group. Other leaders within the crew also emerge. With regards to group cohesion, this can be measured by analyzing how others respond to direction, and thus whether a viable chain of command is established. This is where social identity becomes important–does an individual have a defined role within the group dynamic? Well communicated goals come together when the other parts of group dynamics fall into play.


3. The difference seen between a group and a primary group is the concept of intimacy, in a very broad sense of the word. There are a few things that differentiate a group from a primary group, and perhaps the most important is the concept of face-to-face interaction, rather than through something like email of telephone. Primary groups also tend to be much smaller in size, as well as much more informal than groups–which directly goes along with the idea of intimacy. With regard to Structure, primary groups also tend to be much more rigid–with definite leaders. A classroom is a good example of a primary group, while an online forum such as Facebook is a broad group. I belong to both of these different types of groups.

4. To test, and prove the hypothesis that cohesive groups are overall more efficient and effective than non-cohesive groups would not be a difficult hypothesis to prove. An easy case study to prove this can even refer directly back to the group of men installing a heating system. If this group of five men is considered a cohesive group, close observation at how they work with regards to overall efficiency would begin to enlighten the observer. Then take a group of five men with the same exact credentials as the previous five men, essentially the same five men, but without cohesion. The best way would be to find workers that have never worked together before. Observe them just as closely as the cohesive group. Note the differences in time, group dynamic, communication, and overall efficiency. That is a great start for an experimental study. As far as correlational studies, there is the classic smoke group dynamic test. Waiting to see the first person to say anything, or notice overall, and then the subsequent followers, would definitely say a lot about group dynamics.

5. Motivational models of group behavior has its merit, and is certainly effective in achieving goals. It is natural that a person who believes that they will be properly appreciated for doing a good job will motivate them to work harder. As far as a behavioral approach, this is more like chastisement. It may have some merit in a child’s group dynamic, but for adults its merit only lies in the perceived reaction of other adult peers. System theories makes the most sense with regards to group dynamic, It takes into account many aspects of the individual as well as the group, such as environmental factors, as well as human nature, to an extent. This generally also places an importance on interpersonal relationships, which can be very important to group dynamics. Systems theories generally consider biological factors, another thing that makes it superior. Cognitive theories do also have some merit when it comes to more extreme situations, where differences in a group cannot be solved in any other way. Biological models of group behavior definitely hold an extreme amount of merit with regards to the dynamic as a whole. If there is an individual, or individuals, in the group that detract from the cohesion of the group simply due to design, this can have a very negative impact. Even in a case where there are too many leaders a biological model can be applied–personalities do not always mesh.

6. Membership in a group has a very direct impact on a persons’ sense of self, especially with regards to social identity, as well as goals. The inclusion of a person in a group can assist their development in finding and defining their social identities as a whole. In addition, the inclusion into a prestigious group literally be perceived as a completed goal in and of itself. Both of these are integral to a persons’ sense of self.

7. Social identity theory is an idea that proposes that a person views themselves based on their status within some sort of important group dynamic. Very often a person judges themselves by the standards of others within a group, and places a very large importance on the individual themselves within a group. By comparison and contrast, self-categorization theory states that a person assigns themselves a specific role within a group. Though these trains of thought are very similar, self-categorization theory places more emphasis on the group, rather than the individual. A good example is the dynamics of a hypothetical football team, and their hypothetical high school. While the team may be in last place, the perception is that the proverbial captain is some sort of social leader. He then embraces this role as a socialite. On the other hand, in this proverbial high school, another student may call themselves a “nerd” simply because they get good grades, or some other social stereotype.

8. In not very prestigious groups, especially ones where the pressure is high to retain a proverbial “save of face”, humans have many defense mechanisms they use against potentially damaging criticism. Insulation, one of the main ways in a broad sense, involves proverbially “blending in”. A good example is the actions some politicians take in order to save their careers when people associated with them make bad decisions. The people tend to make themselves less noticeable for fear of not being accepted by not voicing their opinions, whether positive or negative. This can harm the group dynamic by not allowing the free-flowing transfer of information from one mind to another.

9. The proverbial example of children during recess is a very reflective microcosm of the impact inclusion or exclusion from a group on the psyche on an individual. Children engaging in sports, and left to their own device, will naturally “choose” their respective teams based solely on the strength the individual possesses in whatever arbitrary game is to be played. The child who is perceived by his peers to be, by all cases, sub-par in the activity will be chosen last, thus alienating that person. Especially because the group in my particular experiment is made up of children, the consequences of alienation can prove to be very integral in later interpersonal relationships, by either adding self esteem, or unfortunately taking it away. Cognitive development with regards to interpersonal relations and self-esteem can be influenced both in positive and negative ways, and can make deep impressions on anyone of any age.

10. (a) The thesis and aim of both experiments conducted by Dr. Kurt Lewin were very well stated in both cases. He set out to establish different types of leadership in different groups of children, and came up with three: Authoritarian, Participative, as well as Delegative. All have their individual merits in different contexts.

10. (b) In the first experiment, children were exposed to the different types of leadership. The Authoritative approach is structured like a small dictatorship–the instructor clearly asserts themselves as dominant, and primary, decision-makers for the entire group. By contrast, the second type called Participative Leadership, would be the equivalent of a democracy, where all participants are involved in decision making, while there is still a very clear and concise leader. Although this type proves not as productive as the Authoritarian discipline, it has been said that the quality of the work increased. The last type, Delegative Leadership, allows the group to make virtually unlimited demands to a much weaker leader. This was proven to be the least effective method of all. In the second experiment, he took environmental, social, and other differences into account when studying group dynamics. For instance, he considered a person’s prior experiences will inevitably have an impact on results.

10. (c) The original experiment in 1939 did not take into consideration certain independent and dependent variables that are very important. While studying leadership methods, and both groups of children are exposed to the same experiment, the perception of these variables were not immediately apparent. For instance, although both groups of children were taking place in the same exercise, it did not take into consideration other exercises that may have yielded different results. This is an example of a dependent variable. By contrast, art is abstract by nature, so perhaps applying the authoritative method would be more effective in that setting. That is an independent variable. Again, it does not seem anything was done to take control of these variables, as I believe they were retrospective.

10. (d) The selection of participants for the groups studied were all children, and this was definitely the best way to take a sample population due to the impressionability of children, as well as their inherent willingness to take direction. There is really no way to categorize anyone as a “control” group, as all participants were truly being tested in both experiments. Again, the use of children made the group much easier to control.

10. (e) The results were that in the first experiment that while although the Authoritative method was effective, the approach of Participative leadership was clearly the most effective, ending with the best final result. In Lewin’s second experiment on group dynamics, he was able to prove that people placed within a group are indeed influenced by the people around them.

10. (f) With regards to Lewin’s limitations after considering the text by Sagan, there is a major one. It can be looked at as Lewin’s data is completely irrelevant, in fact. Considering Sagan’s commentary on group behavior, specifically the willingness of people to follow, or believe in what the group believes in, Lewin’s second experiment is literally completely discredited, though the relevance of his first remains undeniable.

Works Cited

Forsyth, D.R. (2010). Group Dynamics. 5th Edition. Belmont CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Chapters ,2,3.

Sagan, C. (1995). The fine art of baloney detection. In The demin-haunted world(pp. 203- 218). New York: Random

House.Lewin, K., Lippitt, R., & White, R. K. (1939). Patterns of aggressive behaviour in experimentally created “Social Climates”. In The Journal of Social Psychology, SPSSI Bulletin, 10 271-299

Milgram, S. (1974). The dilemma of obedience. In Obedience to authority: an experiemental view (pp. 1-12). New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. Cooley, C. H, (1967). Primary Groups.

Cartwright, D., & Zander, A. (1968). Origins of group dynamics.

Whyte, W. F. (1970) Introduction. The University of Chicago Press.

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