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Social Fitness in the Military Ian Coulter Ph.D. Paul Lester Ph.D. December 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Fitness in the Military Ian Coulter Ph.D. Paul Lester Ph.D. December 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Fitness in the Military Ian Coulter Ph.D. Paul Lester Ph.D. December 2009

2 Definitions When we apply the concept of fitness (or health ) to a group we are using the concept as a metaphor. Clearly these are characteristics of individuals. Cohesion however is a group characteristic.

3 Definitions: Cohesive Groups and Social Cohesion “Groups are socially cohesive when group-level conditions are producing positive membership attitudes and behaviors and when group members’ interpersonal interactions are operating to maintain these group-level conditions. Thus, cohesive groups are self-maintaining with respect to the production of strong membership attractions and attachments.” “Social cohesion refers to the nature and quality of the emotional bonds of friendship, liking, caring, and closeness among group members. A group is socially cohesive to the extent that its members like each other, prefer to spend their social time together, enjoy each other’s company, and feel emotionally close to one another.”

4 Definitions: Task Cohesion “Task cohesion refers to the shared commitment among members to achieving a goal that requires the collective efforts of the group. A group with high task cohesion is composed of members who share a common goal and who are motivated to coordinate their efforts as a team to achieve that goal. Social cohesion refers to whether the members like each other.”

5 Alternative Terms Cohesion has been captured in a variety of terms: stick together, solidarity, harmony, commitment, connectedness, “we-ness”, tightly coupled, in-group, strong ties. Some have conceptualized cohesion as the field of forces that keep the individuals in a group and others as the resistance to disruptive forces.

6 Operationalized “ The construct cohesiveness has thus far proven to be undefinable.” “ a legacy of confusion” Instrumental attractiveness the degree to which they liked the people Intrinsic attractiveness the degree to which they liked the values of the group At the individual level the way cohesion has been measure is individual attitudes towards the group the individuals’ behaviors

7 Measurement Instruments  Mutual Stimulation and Effect (MSE)  Commitment to the Group (COMMIT)  Compatibility of the Group (COMPAT) From the participant item analysis there are three factors: Positive Qualities (POS QUAL); Personal Compatibility (PER COMPAT); Significance as a Group Member (SIG). From the leader items three factors: Positive Qualities (POS QUAL); Dissatisfaction With the Leaders Role (DISSAT); Personal Compatibility (PER COMPAT)

8 Problems 1. Studies use varying definitions 2. Studies use varying measures 3. The results are variable 4. Reducing cohesion to an aggregate of individual measures 1. Group cohesion over vastly different settings and sub- populations within the settings. The active combat unit clearly has quite different demands and needs than a support unit might. 2. Intervening variables

9 Results 1. Task cohesion and social cohesion are two distinct dimensions 2. Performance has been more highly correlated with task cohesion 3. Conflict can be both positive and negative 4. Social cohesion might be more supportive for the military personnel 5. Intervening variables between cohesion and performance includes leadership, group norms 6. Cohesion is a multi-dimension variable

10 Dilemma The challenge is whether priority should be placed on the importance of cohesion for productivity/effectiveness and/or performance in which case the object should be to develop task coherence. Or should the focus be on the support of the military personnel and social cohesion.

11 Strategy Lack of cohesion is problematic but too much cohesion may also be problematic.

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