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Social Psychology Lecture 4: People in Groups (Chapter 8; Hogg & Vaughan)

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1 Social Psychology Lecture 4: People in Groups (Chapter 8; Hogg & Vaughan)

2 At the end of the lecture... “Compare and contrast social psychological accounts of the ‘group’” What is a group? Why do people join groups? The effect of the group on individual performance Group cohesiveness and group socialisation Norms Group structure

3 What is a group? Although groups vary enormously and can be defined in many different ways, some general distinctions can be made. One important distinction is between similarity-based categorical groups (common-identity groups), and interaction-based dynamic groups (common bond groups). Another distinction can be made between aggregates and groups: An aggregate (e.g., people at a bus queue) becomes a human group (e.g., a team) to the extent that people identify with it, are interdependent with one another, have a common fate, and so forth. However, all groups are social categories and they vary in entitativity; that is, how much they appear to act like a distinct, coherent, and bounded entity. Many social psychological definitions of groups exclude large-scale social categories; they focus on interpersonal interaction, which, of course, cannot define a large category such as an entire nation.

4 Why do people join groups? There are many reasons for joining a group: They provide protection, allow us to do things we cannot do alone, validate our attitudes, and provide social support and a sense of collective identity. Groups reduce uncertainty about who we are, how we should behave, and how others will treat us. Groups satisfy a basic need to belong, and, according to terror management theory, we affiliate with others to buffer ourselves against fear of our inevitable death. The consequences of not joining groups or not being accepted by groups can be very dire. Not being a member of a group is a lonely existence, depriving us of social interaction, social and physical protection, the ability to achieve complex goals, a stable sense of who we are, and confidence in how we should behave. Indeed, social ostracism can be one of the worst punishments.

5 Groups are important: The effect of the group on individual performance Sometimes, people perform tasks better, or worse, when they are in front of other people. According to the drive theory, the mere presence of others (audience effect) has a social facilitation effect in which we are psychologically driven to perform easy, well- learned tasks better, and difficult, poorly learned tasks worse in the presence of others.

6 Drive Effects: Time taken for an easy and a difficult typing task as a function of social presence (Schmitt, Gilovich, Goore & Joseph, 1986) Easy task: Typed their name on a computer Difficult task: typed in backwards interspersed with digits Drive effect on both. Having an incidental audience improved the performance on the easy task, and impaired it on the difficult task. Attentive audience had no additional effect.

7 The effect of the group on individual performance An alternative view is that it is not the mere presence of others that has this drive effect, but rather the fact that others evaluate us and we are apprehensive about this (evaluation apprehension model).

8 Evaluation apprehension: Time taken to dress in familiar and unfamiliar clothes as a function of social presence (Markus, 1978). Easy task: Own clothing Difficult task: Unfamiliar clothing Evaluation apprehension happened with the easy task, the attentive audience reduced the time to get dressed. Drive effect on the difficult task with both audiences increasing the time.

9 The effect of the group on individual performance Yet another explanation is that other people are distracting, causing a conflict between attending to the task and attending to the audience, and this produces the drive effect (distraction-conflict theory).

10 The effect of the group on individual performance Generally, the degree of performance when in a group is also influenced by the nature of the task: Is the task divisible into subroutines; is the objective quantity or quality; and so forth (task taxonomy)…. Nevertheless, there is a general tendency for people in groups to perform worse than when they are alone (process loss). Ingham, Levinger, Graves & Peckham (1974)Ringelmann (1913)

11 Group cohesiveness Cohesiveness is a key feature of groups. Cohesive groups have greater esprit de corps, greater solidarity, and often work more smoothly together as integrated wholes. Although cohesiveness is often associated with liking among members, a useful distinction lies between liking based on interpersonal relationships (personal attraction) and liking based on common group membership (social attraction). Cohesiveness is directly associated with the latter and only indirectly with the former, to the extent that groups provide a context for friendships to form.

12 Festinger, Schachter and Back’s (1950) theory of group cohesiveness

13 General framework of the social cohesion/interpersonal interdependence model Hogg (1992)

14 Group socialisation Tuckman (1965) Groups change over time - they have a life trajectory. Members get to know one another (forming); they argue over what the group represents (storming); consensus and a common identity emerges (norming); the group works smoothly and effortlessly (performing); and finally, the group dissolves because it has fulfilled its goals, or members lose interest and leave (adjourning).

15 Phases of group socialisation (Moreland & Levine, 1982).

16 A model of the process of group socialisation (Moreland & Levine,1982 )

17 Norms Norms define and prescribe how one should behave (using one’s perceptions, feelings, attitudes, and behaviours) as a member of a particular social group — they provide a frame of reference for our behaviour. Norms have a powerful, long-term, internalized effect on our behaviour, influencing what we do even when no one is watching. Because norms are often the hidden background of daily life, we may not be aware of them; they need to be violated for us to suddenly discover they exist (ethnomethodology). Norms are a guide for action, so they are relatively enduring and only change to respond to changed circumstances. Norm violation is usually punished by the group in different ways, particularly if you are a marginal member of a group and the norms relate to defining features of the group. More central members are allowed some leeway to deviate from the group’s norms.

18 Group structure No groups are homogeneous; all are structured to differing extents and in different ways. One of the clearest features of group structure is the use of roles. Roles are much like norms but operate within the group. They specify subgroup activities (a division of labour within the group) and how subgroups interact to benefit the group as a whole. Roles scan be formal or informal and can vary in how specific or general they are. People tend to attribute role behaviour to the personality of the people in the role All roles are not equal. Roles vary in status, some having more power, influence, and prestige.

19 Group structure Groups are structured in terms of how easily subgroups or roles can communicate with one another. Communication networks vary in terms of how centralised they are. Centralised networks are efficient for simple tasks but can make fringe groups feel disenfranchised and marginalized; decentralised networks are more inclusive and possibly more effective for complex tasks.

20 Communication networks that have been studied experimentally What about your friendship group?

21 Group structure Groups are also structured in terms of nested subgroups (e.g., the sales department in an organization) and crosscutting categories (e.g., social psychologists within a psychology department). Finally, groups also contain marginal members or groups who are rejected by the rest of the group and who may form a schism that tries to change the group through minority influence.

22 Revision Advice Issues around performance and establishing and maintaining groups. It will help you to draw a spider diagram to ensure you are clear which theory applies to which Most theories having differing views and you acknowledge this. Show awareness of the various view-points

23 At the end of the lecture... “Compare and contrast social psychological accounts of the ‘group’” What is a group? Why do people join groups? The effect of the group on individual performance Group cohesiveness and group socialisation Norms Group structure


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