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What is a Group? History of Groups Outline. Class Exercise What is a group? Members of groups interact Groups have structure Groups have goals Members identify themselves as a group Groups have two or more members History of group dynamics Late 19 th Century & LeBon

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What is a Group? History of Groups Outline

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What is a group history of groups outline l.jpg

What is a Group? History of GroupsOutline

  • Class Exercise

  • What is a group?

    • Members of groups interact

    • Groups have structure

    • Groups have goals

    • Members identify themselves as a group

    • Groups have two or more members

  • History of group dynamics

    • Late 19th Century & LeBon

    • Psychological Perspective

    • Sociological Perspective

    • Today’s Group Dynamics

  • Dracula Exercise

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1) List everything you do in a typical day from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep.

2) Write at least ten different answers to the following question: Who am I?

3) Count on your list all of the activities you perform with groups and those you perform alone. Calculate a percentage of group activities.

4) Count on your list descriptions that include information about the groups we belong to (and those that don’t). Calculate a percentage.

Class Exercise



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Members of Groups Interact

  • Groupness

    • Size

    • Interdependence

    • Temporal pattern

  • Groups are ‘groupier’ when they are small, able to interact on a variety of issues, and have a past and envision a future

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Groups Have Structure

  • Group structure

    • Norms

    • Roles

    • Status Systems

    • Communication structure


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Tension between 2 goals:

Task accomplishment

Socioemotional needs

Groups Have Goals

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Members Identify Themselves as a Group

  • If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

  • “a group exists when two or more people define themselves as members of it and when its existence is recognized by at least one other” (Brown, 1988)

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Groups Have Two or More Members

  • Dyad

    • 2 person group

  • Group

    • Two or more interacting, interdependent people

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Study of groups began in late 1800s

Roots in psychology and sociology

Collective mind (LeBon)


History of Group Dynamics: Late 19th Century & LeBon

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Psychological Perspective

  • Social facilitation

    • Triplett (1898)

      • Noticed bicyclists performed better when riding with others

      • Study with children performing simple task either alone or with others.

    • Results:

      • Children performed better when in the

        presence of others compared to when alone

  • But groups aren’t real…

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“There is no more magic behind the fact that groups have properties of their own, which are different than the properties of their subgroups or their individual members, than behind the fact that molecules have properties which are different from the properties of the atoms or ions of which they are composed.” -Lewin

Groups could be studied scientifically

Field theory

B = f (P, E)


Research Center for Group Dynamics

Adapted experimentation to the problems of group life

Kurt Lewin

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Lewin, Lippit & White

  • Groups of 10- and 11-year- old boys to meet after school to work on various hobbies.

  • Each group included a man who adopted one of three leadership styles

    • Autocratic, democratic, or laissez-faire

  • Results:

    • Autocratic: worked more only when leader watched; more hostile

    • Democratic: worked even when leader left

    • Laissez-faire: Worked the least

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    ‘There is nothing so practical as a good theory’

    • Lewin: Theoretical and applied research should go hand in hand



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    Rodney Dangerfield Era

    • Experimental model- trying to gain respect

    • Study of small groups, in the lab, with undergraduates, manipulating one factor

      • Cause-effect

    • Research in the 60s and 70s

      • Conformity

      • Group polarization

      • Helping

      • Social facilitation

      • Group aggression

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    Research Example

    • Bystander Effect (Latane & Darley,1970)

    • Study in Beverage Center

      • Staged robberies in stores

      • When clerk went to back, 2 robbers stole merchandise

    • Conditions:

      • Stole with only one other shopper

      • Stole with a few other shoppers

    • Results:

      • Alone shoppers more likely to report theft!

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    Limitations of Lab Experiments

    • Cannot mimic the complex environment

    • Cannot mimic ebb and flow of groups over time

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    In 1950s sociologists looked at groups as miniature social systems

    Forefathers of sociological thought:




    New Measurement techniques:


    Interaction Process Analysis

    Sociological Perspective

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    Today’s Group Dynamics

    • Today, research is conducted by a variety of disciplines

      • Psychologists, communication researchers, social workers, sociologists…

    • Today group dynamics researchers use a variety of research methods

      • Much research focuses on real world groups

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    Dracula Exercise

    • This problem solving exercise will be a good introduction to group dynamics.

    • TASKS:

      • Read situation sheet

      • Individually create a plan

      • Individually rank items from most important to least important

      • As a group, rank items again

      • Score your own and your groups ranking

        • Use answer sheet and compute absolute values

        • The lower the score the better!

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    Dracula Exercise

    • Answer the following questions.

      • What is the group’s goal

      • What were the patterns of communication?

      • How did leadership emerge in the group?

      • What determined how influential each member was?

      • What method of decision making was used and how effective was it?

      • Why/why didn’t members challenge each other?

      • What conflict arose and how were they managed?

      • What actions by the group members helped/hurt the team?

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