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Welcome to a Presentation on Group Dynamics Courtesy of: The CURTAIN CLOSERS (a.k.a. Brooke, Jessica, Suzie, Jess, & Kayla). What is group dynamics?. Group dynamics. Group dynamics refers to what is HAPPENING IN GROUPS Refers to complex forces that are acting upon every thought

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Welcome to a

Presentation on

Group Dynamics

Courtesy of:


(a.k.a. Brooke, Jessica, Suzie, Jess, & Kayla)


Group dynamics

  • Group dynamics refers to what is HAPPENING IN GROUPS
    • Refers to complex forces that are acting upon every thought

The History of Group Dynamics

  • The study of small group behavior is a relatively modern development.
  • It’s a sub-discipline of social psychology
  • Group research was a popular topic within social psychology in North America during the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s.
    • Many of the studies during this time were done in controlled, artificial laboratory settings with short-term groups.
the history of group dynamics continued
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…

The Schools of Research

  • The Michigan School
  • The Harvard School
  • The Illinois School
the history of group dynamics continued1
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…

The Michigan School

      • Was called this because many of the it’s early researchers came from the University of Michigan.
  • Treated groups as social systems that influence members.
        • The bulk of the work that from the Michigan School perspective was laboratory experimental, involving groups of strangers, working under artificial conditions, and for short time periods.
the history of group dynamics continued2
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…

The Harvard School

  • Treated groups as social systems for patterning human interaction.
  • Was called this because much of it was inspired by and built around R. F. Bales and his colleagues at Harvard University.
the history of group dynamics continued3
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…

The Illinois School

      • Was called this because a lot of its contributors had a connection with the University of Illinois.
  • Treated groups as systems for getting tasks performed.
  • A relatively small portion of work from this perspective tried to explore systematically the differential effects of various input conditions of group performance of tasks of different types.
the history of group dynamics continued4
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…

Weaknesses of the Different Schools

  • By the late ’60s and early ‘70s group research suffered.
    • Because each school had distinct objectives, none of the schools really paid attention to each other.
    • As a result, Each school eventually reached the limits of what could be learned within that closely bound paradigm
the history of group dynamics continued5
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…


  • Research flourished simultaneously in a number of other disciplines like organizational behavior, speech communication, and political science.
    • The study of small groups in other fields blended work from more than just one of the schools.

The Basics

  • Considered to be the founder of this whole movement to study groups scientifically
  • Coined the term “group dynamics”
  • Definition: the way groups react to changing circumstances

And More Lewin

  • Roots: Gestalt psychology- theory and practice, laboratory techniques applies to social behavior (evident in T-Groups TBD)
  • Interested in how group interactions can be uniform, like identifying patterns of behavior

More Lewin

  • 2 Ideas Within Group Dynamics:
  • - interdependence of fate (individual’s fate depends on the group’s fate)
  • - and task interdependence (group becomes a group because they share a common objective)


  • National Training Laboratories:Atraining program for groups, now used for team building
  • Was partly used for research- it is a laboratory method with observation by trainers and researchers
  • It is individual learning for participants, you can learn about yourself, how you interact with others
  • Totally focused on the process
  • Feedback is key

T-Group Objectives

  • (a lot like what we’re learning in core)
  • Increase your understanding of group development and dynamics.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the underlying social processes at work within a group (looking under the tip of the iceberg)
  • Increase interpersonal skills
  • Experiment with changes in your behavior
  • Increase your skill in facilitating group effectiveness.
  • Increase your awareness of your own feelings in the moment; and offer you the opportunity to accept responsibility for your feelings.
  • Increase your ability to manage and utilize conflict.
  • Increase your understanding of the impact of your behavior on others.
  • Increase your sensitivity to others' feelings.
  • Increase your ability to give and receive feedback.
  • Increase your ability to learn from your own and a group's experience.


  • Professor at Harvard, where he received his PhD
  • His research focused on interpersonal interaction in small groups and searched for reoccurring patterns- influenced by Kurt Lewin

Bale’s Coding systems

  • First coding system was IPA (Interactive Process Analysis), which was used to classify group behavior into task- and relationship-oriented behaviors
  • This then developed into SYMLOG (Systematic Multiple Level Observation of Groups) in 1970


  • A method of rating or scoring group interaction by an observer or by the participants themselves
  • The multiple levels are: non-verbal and verbal behaviors with sublevels within those, also the identification of judgments
  • Simplified rating form: Reading was an example of a SYMLOG questionnaire

Adjective Ratings

  • “Dominance/submission. Is this member active, outgoing, and talkative - or passive, quiet and introverted?
  • Friendliness/unfriendliness. Is this member warm, open and positive – or negative and irritable?
  • Acceptance of authority/non-acceptance of authority. Is this member analytical, and task-oriented – or emotional, untraditional and (possibly) resentful?”
  • (

Topics in Group dynamics

  • Group development:
    • 1. Forming: comes together and gets to know one another
    • 2. Storming: a chaotic vying for leadership
    • 3. Norming: eventually agreement on group operation
    • 4. Performing: the group practices is crafted and becomes effective in its meaning objectives
    • 5. Adjourning: in forming the group
  • Group Size: optimal is between 6-16
  • Risky Shift: the risks people take individually versus what they will do in groups
  • Social Support
  • Group Mix
  • Group Norms

Group culture

  • Small groups form their own culture
    • “Small groups evolve ideals and traditional ways of doing things, and those ideals and traditions also become normative.“ (Wilson & Hanna, p.39)
    • For successful group a collectivist culture needs to take precedence over the individual needs
      • Collectivist Culture: a culture that values group needs and goals more than individual needs and goals

Group culture

  • A shared culture allows for group goals to be formed
    • Knowing each goal
    • Halfway measure enforcing emerging norms that each member had on an assignment
    • Encouraging each other
  • This aids in building a NORM of quality within the group
group dynamics important terms
Group Dynamics: Important Terms
  • Group Form
  • Norm
  • Statuses
  • Role
  • Network
group dynamics group form
Group Dynamics: Group Form
  • Group form is also known as composition. Within group form are the concepts of:
    • Norms
    • Status
    • Roles
    • Network

Group Norms

  • GROUP NORMS: standards behavior of groups impose on their members
  • Group rules are created
    • The do’s and the don’ts that result from the interactions of group members over time
    • Standard model/pattern of behavior form
  • Norms evolve!

Evolution of Group Norms

  • 1. Collective evaluation: shared beliefs about what should be doing
  • 2. Collective expectation: predictions of what people will do rather than what they ought to
    • This creates a group truth
  • 3. Reaction to behavior/adaptation to behavior
  • **EVOLUTION of norms is important to group and can help with success and cohesiveness
  • If there are damaging norms groups can
    • Identify the concern
    • Ask group members to discuss their perceptions
    • Finally find an agreement to grow from

Group Structure

  • This is the how and what of group communication
  • Communication networks are complex in the organization but can establish hierarchy for its members
  • Groups can without any trail and notion can work on communication patterns – TRIAL AND ERROR
    • In five person networks
      • Wheel and chain type of communication pattern is more efficient since it centralizes on the network
      • Centralized networks are useful for solving complex problems
group dynamics status

Status: A positive or negative position based off of one’s power, prestige, access to resources, and other means.

  • Types of Status:
    • Ascribed (Given)
    • Achieved (Earned)
  • Social Stratification: A categorization of individuals based off of their power and wealth in a given society.
    • Major-Race, Ethnicity, gender, etc.
    • Hidden- Age, weight, disability, etc.

Group Dynamics: Status

group dynamics development
Group Dynamics: Development
  • There are many new ways of how to form groups, which then in turn creates different ways of having group dynamics.
    • Reasons why ascribed and achieved
group dynamics network
Group Dynamics: Network
  • Network: Patterns of connection among a set group of points.
  • Wheel-Centralized
  • Chain- Serial/Compare parallel
  • Circle- Closed
  • Completely Connected-Distributed
  • Redundantly Connected-Districted
group roles
Group Roles
  • Your role is the part you play in a group.
  • Formal roles: are assigned on the basis of a member's formal position or title and are sometimes called positional roles.
  • Informal roles: sometimes called behavioral roles, are the parts people play that reflect their personality traits, habits, and behaviors in the group.
role functions in a small group
Role Functions in a small Group

Task Roles: Encompass behaviors that contribute to the accomplishment of the group’s task.

  • Initiating and orienting
  • Information giving
  • Information seeking
  • Opinion giving
  • Clarifying
  • Elaborating
  • Summarizing
  • Consensus testing
  • Recording
  • Suggesting Procedure

Role Functions in a small Group

Maintenance Roles: Incorporate those behaviors that help the group maintain harmonious relationships and a cohesive interpersonal climate.

Establishing norms



Tension relieving


Showing solidarity


Role Functions in a small Group

Individual Roles: Consist of self-centered behaviors.

  • With drawing
  • Blocking
  • Status seeking and recognition seeking
  • Playing
  • Acting helpless
  • Galanes, A. (2009). Communication in groups: Application and skills. New Yory: Frank Mortimer
  • Heiss, D. (2000). SYMLOG Questionnaires. Indiana University. Retrieved from:
  • Forsyth, D. (1997). The scientific study of groups: An editorial. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1(1), 3-6.
  • Knowles M. & Knowles H. (1959) Introduction to group dynamics. Broadway, NY. Association Pres.
  • Light Bryan Consulting. (n. d.). The history of group dynamics. Retrieved from

  • Kagan, J., Kelman, H. C., Stone, P. J., & Mahler, B. A. (2005). Robert Freed Bales. Retrieved from
  • McGrath, J. (1997). Small group research, that once and future field: An interpretation of the past with an eye to the future. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1(1), 7-27.
  • Neill, J. (2007, April 3). Group dynamics, processes & development. Retrieved from
  • Payne, K. J. (2005, March 30). Group Dynamics. Retrieved July 11, 2010, from :
  • Scanzoni, J. (1983). Review: Untitled. The American Journal of Sociology, 88(4), pp. 814-816.
  • Smith, M. K. (2001). Kurt Lewin, groups, experiential learning and action research. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from:
  • Smith, M. K. (2008). Robert Freed Bales, Group observation and interaction processes. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from: