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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

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
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 group1
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
Types of Groups and their Influence

A. Sociology

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
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 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 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
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
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
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