Chapter 8 groups and group behaviour
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Chapter 8 Groups and Group Behaviour. What are the characteristics of groups? Do groups have a positive or negative effect on people? Is conformity a good thing?. Ask yourself…. How much of your behaviour is influenced by the groups you are a part of ?

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Chapter 8 Groups and Group Behaviour

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Chapter 8Groups and Group Behaviour

What are the characteristics of groups?

Do groups have a positive or negative effect on people?

Is conformity a good thing?

Ask yourself…

How much of your behaviour is influenced by the groups you are a part of ?

Could you be pressured by a group to do something you believed is wrong?

What if someone in a position of authority told you to hurt someone, would you do it?

What is a group?

What is a group?

A social group is

two or more people who interact often

influence each other

have a shared identity

a social structure – formal or informal eg. Leaders and followers

Group consensus (agreement, stated or implied) on certain values, behaviour and goals


A collection of people

Interact only briefly

Little influence on one another

Types of Groups and their Influence


Primary groups –

small, emotionally close, interdependent group whose members see one another often, know one another well and value each member as a whole person

The Good and the Bad of Being a Member of a Primary Group

Positive Effects

  • Supportive and caring

  • Give a sense of security and self-worth

    Negative effects

  • Some groups demand that their members share common values

  • Often leads to conformity (may be a + or a -)

  • Expectations of two opposing groups may lead to conflict

  • Restricted independence

Secondary group

a large more impersonal group that has limited information, dependence or interest from its members except for their contribution to the group goals

Negative Aspects of Secondary Groups

Negative effects

  • Members are often valued only for their contribution and not for themselves

  • Not overly interested in each other

  • Communicate only out of necessity

  • Less personal

  • Do not provide emotional support and may seem intimidating

Positive Aspects of Being a Member of a Secondary Group

Positive Effects

  • Less restricting to individual freedom

  • Fewer conflicts

  • May turn into a primary group relationship

How Groups Influence Behaviour


We learn what is expected of each role

Social groups pressure us to conform


Behaviour expectations or guidelines

a) mores – highly regarded moral views on behaviour, almost never broken

b) folkways – everyday habits or traditional practices concerning things such as manners or personal appearance

  • Sanctions – formal or informal penalty or reward given to ensure conformity

    informal - Eg. A smile or a frown

    formal – public rewards or punishments Eg. A suspension or a scholarship

How Does A Group Influence One to Conform?

Psychological Perspective

Four factors that determine whether or not a person will conform to a group

1.Group attractiveness – the more attractive the group is to its members (how much they like, admire or want to be a part of the group), the more likely the are to conform

2.Group unanimity – when a group is in seemingly total agreement, there is great pressure to conform

3.Public vs. private response – when a person has to give their opinion in front of the group they are more likely to conform their opinion to match the groups’

4.Nature of the task – tasks or questions that are vague or have no clear answer are easier to have people conform to. When they are clearer, factual or on a topic you feel competent about you are less likely to conform

Asch's Conformity Experiment

Groupthink – when group members have such a strong desire to reach a consensus they don’t examine all of the options or consequences

  • Too little time evaluating alternatives

  • Important information is dismissed

  • There is the illusion of total agreement; people think they are the only ones who disagree and so say nothing

    Example of Group Think

    Candid Camera

    Dangerous Group Think

Why Do People Obey Figures of Authority?

  • An authority figure can use rewards or punishment to induce people to conform (or people think they will be rewarded or punished)

  • We know (or think we know) that conformity in necessary to provide order and security

  • People conform when they can (or think they can) shift responsibility for their actions to someone else.

    Milgram's experiment

    Fast Food Con Man

    Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment

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