Added: Marnie Branum - Date: 20.01.2022 14:19 - Views: 24106 - Clicks: 4769
This module assumes that a thorough understanding of people requires a thorough understanding of groups. Each of us is an autonomous individual seeking our own objectives, yet we are also members of groups—groups that constrain us, guide us, and sustain us. Just as each of us influences the group and the people in the group, so, too, do groups change each one of us. ing groups satisfies our need to belong, gain information and understanding through social comparison, define our sense of self and social identity, and achieve goals that might elude us if we worked alone.
Success sometimes eludes our groups, but when group members learn to work together as a cohesive team their success becomes more certain. People also turn to groups when important decisions must be made, and this choice is justified as long as groups avoid such problems as group polarization and groupthink. Psychologists study groups because nearly all human activities—working, learning, worshiping, relaxing, playing, and even sleeping—occur in groups. The lone individual who is cut off from all groups is a rarity. Most of us live out our lives in groups, and these groups have a profound impact on our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Many psychologists focus their attention on single individuals, but social psychologists expand their analysis to include groups, organizations, communities, and even cultures. This module examines the psychology of groups and group membership. It begins with a basic question: What is the psychological ificance of groups?
People are, undeniably, more often in groups rather than alone. What s for this marked gregariousness and what does it say about our psychological makeup? The module then reviews some of the key findings from studies of groups. Researchers have asked many questions about people and groups: Do people work as hard as they can when they are in groups?
Are groups more cautious than individuals? Do groups make wiser decisions than single individuals? In many cases the answers are not what common sense and folk wisdom might suggest. Many people loudly proclaim their autonomy and independence. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. Even though people are capable of living separate and apart from others, they with others because groups meet their psychological and social needs.
Across individuals, societies, and even eras, humans consistently seek inclusion over exclusion, membership over isolation, and acceptance over rejection. And most of us satisfy this need by ing groups. When surveyed, People respond negatively when their need to belong is unfulfilled. For example, college students often feel homesick and lonely when they first start college, but not if they belong to a cohesive, socially satisfying group Buote et al. People who are accepted members of a group tend to feel happier and more satisfied. But should they be rejected by a group, they feel unhappy, helpless, and depressed.
Studies of ostracism —the deliberate exclusion from groups—indicate this experience is highly stressful and can lead to depression, confused thinking, and even aggression Williams, When researchers used a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner to track neural responses to exclusion, they found that people who were left out of a group activity displayed heightened cortical activity in two specific areas of the brain—the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula. It hurts, quite literally, to be left out of a group. Groups not only satisfy the need to belong, they also provide members with information, assistance, and social support.
Stanley Schachter explored this process by putting individuals in ambiguous, stressful situations and asking them if they wished to wait alone or with others. He found that people affiliate in such situations—they seek the company of others. Although any kind of companionship is appreciated, we prefer those who provide us with reassurance and support as well as accurate information. In some cases, we also prefer to with others who are even worse off than we are. To maintain a sense of self-worth, people seek out and compare themselves to the less fortunate. This process is known as downward social comparison.
Yet, the self also includes all those qualities that spring from memberships in groups. People are defined not only by their traits, preferences, interests, likes, and dislikes, but also by their friendships, social roles, family connections, and group memberships. Even demographic qualities such as sex or age can influence us if we categorize ourselves based on these qualities. Moreover, if we strongly identify with these , then we will ascribe the characteristics of the typical member of these groups to ourselves, and so stereotype ourselves. If, for example, we believe that college students are intellectual, then we will assume we, too, are intellectual if we identify with that group Hogg, In addition, by comparing our group to other groups, we frequently discover that we are members of the better group, and so can take pride in our superiority.
Like a gauge that indicates how much fuel is left in the tank, a dip in self-esteem indicates exclusion from our group is likely. Disquieting feelings of self-worth, then, prompt us to search for and correct characteristics and qualities that put us at risk of social exclusion. Individuals in groups can secure advantages and avoid disadvantages that would plague the lone individuals. The advantages of group life may be so great that humans are biologically prepared to seek membership and avoid isolation. Groups usually exist for a reason. In groups, we solve problems, create products, create standards, communicate knowledge, have fun, perform arts, create institutions, and even ensure our safety from attacks by other groups.
But do groups always outperform individuals? Do people perform more effectively when alone or when part of a group? Norman Triplett examined this issue in one of the first empirical studies in psychology. While watching bicycle races, Triplett noticed that cyclists were faster when they competed against other racers than when they raced alone against the clock. To determine if the presence of others le to the psychological stimulation that enhances performance, he arranged for 40 children to play a game that involved turning a small reel as quickly as possible see Figure 1.
When he measured how quickly they turned the reel, he confirmed that children performed slightly better when they played the game in pairs compared to when they played alone see Stroebe, ; Strube, However, it remained for Robert Zajonc to specify when social facilitation does and does not occur. After reviewing prior research, Zajonc noted that the facilitating effects of an audience usually only occur when the task requires the person to perform dominant responses, i. If the task requires nondominant responses, i. Hence, students write poorer quality essays on complex philosophical questions when they labor in a group rather than alone Allport, , but they make fewer mistakes in solving simple, low-level multiplication problems with an audience or a coactor than when they work in isolation Dashiell, Social facilitation, then, depends on the task: other people facilitate performance when the task is so simple that it requires only dominant responses, but others interfere when the task requires nondominant responses.
However, a of psychological processes combine to influence when social facilitation, not social interference, occurs. The presence of other people can also cause perturbations in our capacity to concentrate on and process information Harkins, Groups usually outperform individuals.
A single student, working alone on a paper, will get less done in an hour than will four students working on a group project. One person playing a tug-of-war game against a group will lose. A crew of movers can pack up and transport your household belongings faster than you can by yourself. Groups, though, tend to be underachievers.
But what happens when tasks require a truly collective effort? Three people in a tug-of-war competition, for example, invariably pull and pause at slightly different times, so their efforts are uncoordinated. The result is coordination loss : the three-person group is stronger than a single person, but not three times as strong. As Figure 2 indicates, groups generated more noise than solitary subjects, but the productivity dropped as the groups became larger in size.
Productivity also dropped when subjects merely believed they were in groups. Social loafing is no rare phenomenon. Groups can, however, overcome this impediment to performance through teamwork. Team goals must be set, work patterns structured, and a sense of group identity developed.
Researchers have identified two key ingredients to effective teamwork: a shared mental representation of the task and group unity. Teams improve their performance over time as they develop a shared understanding of the team and the tasks they are attempting. Effective teams are also, in most cases, cohesive groups Dion, Group cohesion is the integrity, solidarity, social integration, or unity of a group. In most cases, members of cohesive groups like each other and the group and they also are united in their pursuit of collective, group-level goals.
Members tend to enjoy their groups more when they are cohesive, and cohesive groups usually outperform ones that lack cohesion. This cohesion-performance relationship, however, is a complex one. In most cases groups do not become smooth-functioning teams overnight. As noted in Focus Topic 1, in the forming phase, the members become oriented toward one another.
In the storming phase, the group members find themselves in conflict, and some solution is sought to improve the group environment. In the norming, phase standards for behavior and roles develop that regulate behavior. In the performing, phase the group has reached a point where it can work as a unit to achieve desired goals, and the adjourning phase ends the sequence of development; the group disbands. Members expose information about themselves in polite but tentative interactions. Disagreements about procedures and purposes surface, so criticism and conflict increase.
Much of the conflict stems from challenges between members who are seeking to increase their status and control in the group. The group focuses its energies and attention on its goals, displaying higher rates of task-orientation, decision-making, and problem-solving. The group prepares to disband by completing its tasks, reduces levels of dependency among members, and dealing with any unresolved issues. Instead, we gradually become a part of the group and remain in the group until we leave it.
For example, when you are thinking of ing a new group—a social club, a professional society, a fraternity or sorority, or a sports team—you investigate what the group has to offer, but the group also investigates you. During this investigation stage you are still an outsider: interested in ing the group, but not yet committed to it in any way. On a sports team, for example, you may initially hope to be a star who starts every game or plays a particular position, but the team may need something else from you. In time, though, the group will accept you as a full-fledged member and both sides in the process—you and the group itself—increase their commitment to one another.
When that commitment wanes, however, your membership may come to an end as well. Groups are particularly useful when it comes to making a decision, for groups can draw on more resources than can a lone individual. A single individual may know a great deal about a problem and possible solutions, but his or her information is far surpassed by the combined knowledge of a group. Groups not only generate more ideas and possible solutions by discussing the problem, but they can also more objectively evaluate the options that they generate during discussion.
Before accepting a solution, a group may require that a certain of people favor it, or that it meets some other standard of acceptability. Groups, however, do not always make good decisions. Juries sometimes render verdicts that run counter to the evidence presented. Community groups take radical stances on issues before thinking through all the ramifications. Military strategists concoct plans that seem, in retrospect, ill-conceived and short-sighted. Why do groups sometimes make poor decisions? One of the group members suggests showing a short video that, although amusing, includes some provocative images.
Even though initially you think the clip is inappropriate, you begin to change your mind as the group discusses the idea. The group decides, eventually, to throw caution to the wind and show the clip—and your instructor is horrified by your choice. This hypothetical example is consistent with studies of groups making decisions that involve risk.
Common sense notions suggest that groups exert a moderating, subduing effect on their members. However, when researchers looked at groups closely, they discovered many groups shift toward more extreme decisions rather than less extreme decisions after group interaction. If a majority of members feel that taking risks is more acceptable than exercising caution, then the group will become riskier after a discussion.
When seeking a solution to a problem, group members can put their ideas on the table and share their knowledge and judgments with each other through discussions. But all too often groups spend much of their discussion time examining common knowledge—information that two or more group members know in common—rather than unshared information.
This common knowledge effect will result in a bad outcome if something known by only one or two group members is very important. Researchers have studied this bias using the hidden profile task. On such tasks, information known to many of the group members suggests that one alternative, say Option A, is best.
However, Option B is definitely the better choice, but all the facts that support Option B are only known to individual groups members—they are not common knowledge in the group. As a result, the group will likely spend most of its time reviewing the factors that favor Option A, and never discover any of its drawbacks. Groups sometimes make spectacularly bad decisions. In , a special advisory committee to President John F. Kennedy planned and implemented a covert invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs that ended in total disaster. In , NASA carefully, and incorrectly, decided to launch the Challenger space shuttle in temperatures that were too cold.
Each group, he concluded, fell prey to a distorted style of thinking that rendered the group members incapable of making a rational decision. Janis identified both the telltale symptoms that al the group is experiencing groupthink and the interpersonal factors that combine to cause groupthink. To Janis, groupthink is a disease that infects healthy groups, rendering them inefficient and unproductive.Seeking group experiance
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