Understanding Interpersonal Relationship and Human Group Behavior

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2014

34 Pages



1. Understanding Group
1.0 Objectives
1.1 Understanding the Group
1.2 Different Types of Group
1.3 Main dimension of the Group
1.4 Summary
1.5 Further Readings

2. Group Development Model and Theories
2.0 Objectives
2.1 Theories and Models of Group Development
2.2 Models of Group Development
2.3 More about Tuckman’s Stages Model
2.4 Summary
2.5 Further Readings

3. Leadership and Theories
3.0 Objectives
3.1. Leadership
3.2. Theories and Models of Leadership
3.3 Leadership Style
3.4 Summary
3.5 Further Readings


This essay we begin with some theoretical concept of group including the definitions; as given by Sociologists and social anthropologists; group formation, types of group, their characteristic- norms, size, cohesiveness, effectiveness, team building, Conflict and Conflict resolution etc. Stages of Group development - how do group grow, develop or decay? Theories of the Group development, Models of Group development, Leadership-concept, pattern, style and various theories of Leadership - Trait theory, Managerial Grid Theory and Contingency etc. There are following three sub units in this essay- 1.Understanding Group; 2. Group Development Model and Theories and 3. Leadership and Theories

In this essay we will introduce you some basic concept of Group, its importance in understanding the human behavior in group. We hope you will find this write up useful in understanding interpersonal Relationship and Group Behaviour.

1.1.Understanding Group

Group is the fundamental part of society and maintains the social life. There can be very small group of just two people or very large of many people. They can be highly rewarding to their members and to society as a whole. Let see some definitions of Group as eminent Sociologists and other cultural anthropologists have defined.

George Homans (1950) defines a group as a number of persons who communicate with one another often over a span of time, and who are few enough so that each person is able to communicate with all the others, through other people face-to-face.

John C Turner (1987) stress the descriptive and psychological aspects of a group, he defined as Group is psychologically significant for the members, to which they relate themselves subjectively for social comparison and the acquisition of norms and values, ... that they privately accept membership in, and which influences their attitudes and behaviour.

Theodore M. Mills (1967) says simply they are units composed of two or more persons who come into contact for a purpose and who consider the contact is meaningful.

Kurt Lewin (1951) says group is “ a dynamic whole is based on interdependence of the members (or better, the subparts of the group).”

Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander (1968) a group is a collection of individuals who have relations to one another that make them interdependent to some significant degree. As so defined, the term group refers to a class of social entities having in common the property of interdependence among their constituent members.

From above generally we can say a group exists when two or more people define themselves as members of it and when its existence is recognized by at least one other as says Rupert Brown (1988).

Group, as we observe the contents of these definitions the following are the main characteristics of a Group. Members of the Group:

i. There is a set of people do frequent interactions
ii. They identify with one another.
iii. They are defined by others as a group.
iv. They share beliefs, values, and norms about areas of common interest.
v. They define themselves as a group.
vi. They come together to work on common tasks and for agreed purposes.

Some more features of the Group as Benson (2000) suggests that groups are intended and organic. It means members of the group have the feeling and they are emotionally attached to each other. These groups emerge gradually and have three crucial characteristics:

i. There are parts
ii. There exist a relationship between the parts
iii. These are based on the organizing principles of the group

Further we might also add, as both John C. Turner (1987) and Rupert Brown (1989) have pointed out, groups are not just systems or entities in their own right but exist in relation to other groups.

1.2 . Types of groups

There are various ways of classifying groups, for example in terms of their purpose or structure, but two sets of categories have retained their usefulness for both practitioners and researchers. They involve the distinctions between:

1. Primary and secondary groups; and
2. Planned and Emergent groups.

1. Primary and Secondary groups

Charles Horton Cooley (1909) established the distinction between 'primary groups' and 'nucleated groups’ or now called as secondary groups. As Cooley (1909) explains that Primary groups as the clusters of people like families or close friendship circles where there is close, face-to-face and intimate interaction. There is also often a high level of interdependence between members. Primary groups are also the key means of socialization in society, the main place where attitudes, values and orientations are developed and sustained.

Example-1: Boy and his girl friend or two men or two women friend may be the good example of the primary group. Further there can be husband and wife, forms a primary group and their children may also be the part of this group

Whereas Secondary groups are those in which members are rarely, if ever, all in direct contact. They are often large and usually formally organized. Trades unions and membership organizations such as the National Trust are examples of these. They are an important for socialization, but secondary to primary groups. This distinction remains helpful – especially when thinking about what environments are significant when considering socialization (the process of learning about how to become members of society through internalizing social norms and values; and by learning through performing our different social roles). The distinction helps to explain the limited impact of schooling in important areas of social life (teachers rarely work in direct way with primary groups) and of some of the potential of informal educators and social pedagogues (who tend to work with both secondary and primary groups - sometimes with families, often with close friendship circles).

2. Planned and Emergent groups

Planned groups are specifically formed for some purpose – either by their members, or by some external individual, group or organization and the members always try to achieve the aims or purpose as planned. Emergent groups come into being relatively spontaneously where people find themselves together in the same place, or where the same collection of people gradually comes to know each other through conversation and interaction over a period of time.

Example-2: We are facing the naxalit’s group emergence in the some of the South Indian States. They have some purpose and some ideals to achieve as the members of the group. Similarly there are Muslim religious Group which are threat to the Country. Can you identify such these State and name such group? Think about these groups too and try to explore their operational areas and also explore the impact of their activity on the common people.

There can be other types of the groups the distinction between formed and emergent groups has been further developed by asking whether the group is formed by internal or external forces. Thus, Arrow et. al (2000) have split planned groups into ‘ concocted ’: planned by people and organizations outside the group and ‘ founded ’: planned by a person or people who are in the group. They also divided emergent groups into ‘ circumstantial ’: unplanned and often temporary groups that develop when external forces bring people together e.g. people in a bus queue and ‘ self-organizing’: where people gradually cooperate and engage with each other around some task or interest. Lets see some potential benefits or danger of any group

Some benefits and dangers of groups

As can be seen from what we have already reviewed, groups offer people the opportunity to work together on joint projects and tasks - they allow people to develop more complex and larger-scale activities. We have also seen that groups can be:

i. They are important sites of socialization and specific kind of education – enabling people to develop a sense of identity and belonging, and to deepen knowledge, skills, and values and attitudes developed through the socialisation..
ii. Places where relationships can form and grow, and where people can find help and support.
iii. Settings where wisdom flourishes.

However, there is a downside to all this. The socialization they offer might be highly constraining and oppressive for some of their members. They can also become environments that foster interpersonal conflict. Furthermore, the boundaries drawn around groups are part of a process of excluding certain people (sometimes to their detriment) and creating inter-group conflict. There is also evidence to show that groups can impact upon individuals in ways that warp their judgements and that lead to damaging decision making as ' groupthink '.

For these reasons we need to be able to appreciate what is going on in groups - and to act where we can to make them more fulfilling and beneficial to their members as well as to society as a whole.

1.3. Main Dimensions of Groups

Those engaged in the systematic exploration of group processes and dynamics have used different ways of observing group behaviour and gaining insight into the experience of being part of groups. Some have tried for more of an ‘insider’ view using participant observation and conversation. Perhaps the best known example of this was William F. Whyte’s (1943) study of street corner society. Others have used more covert forms of observation, or looked to structured and overt observation and interviews. A classic example of the sort of scheme that has been used when looking at groups in more structured ways is Robert Freed Bales’ (1950) IPA system (Interaction Process Analysis) with its 12 different ways of coding group behaviour e.g. ‘shows solidarity’, ‘agrees’, ‘asks for opinion’ and so on.

All this research, and the contrasting orientations informing it, has generated different ideas about what to look out for in groups and, in particular, the forces impacting upon group processes and dynamics. We want to highlight five:

i. Group interaction
ii. Group interdependence
iii. Group structure
iv. Group goals
v. Group cohesion

There are various ways of organizing and naming the significant qualities of the Group as mentioned by Forsyth (2006) as follows.

i. Group interaction

Those involved with researching and working with groups have often come at interaction – the way in which people engage with and influence each other - from contrasting perspectives. As we have already seen, Bales (1950, 1999) looked at categorizing social interventions in terms of the ways in which they appear to impact on group process – and in particular the extent to which they looked to ‘getting on with the job’ or ‘having regard for others’ (Brown 1988). This distinction has turned out to be one of the most enduring features of much that has been written about groupwork. Task interaction can be seen as including ‘all group behaviour that is focussed principally on the group’s work, projects, plans and goals’ (Forsyth 2006). Relationship interaction (or socio-emotional interaction) is centred around the social and interpersonal aspects of group life. This distinction has found its way into different aspects of practice – for example when thinking about leadership in groups (whether leaders focus on structure and task actions, or on the feelings and needs of the group members) (see, in particular, Hersey and Blanchard 1977). Thus actions can be categorized into whether they are concerned with task or maintenance (sometimes also described respectively as instrumental or expressive interventions) (Brown 1994).

ii. Group interdependence

It is a basic feature of groups that group members’ outcomes often depend not only on their own actions, but also on the actions of others in the group. One member’s feelings, experiences and actions can come to be influenced in whole or in part by others. In all this it is also helpful to take up a distinction formulated by Morton Deutsch (1949) when looking at cooperation and competition in groups. He contrasted social interdependence - which exists when people share common goals and each person's outcomes are affected by the actions of others - with social dependence where the ‘outcomes of one person are affected by the actions of a second person but not vice versa’ (Johnson and Johnson 2003).

iii. Group structure

As Forsyth (2006) define group structure as: the size, the ‘norms, roles and stable patterns of relationship among the members of the group’.

Group size. An obvious but crucial consideration is the size of the group. Large groups function differently in a number of important respects to smaller groups. Size impacts on group communication, for example. In smaller groups a higher proportion of people are likely to participate – there is potential more time for each, and the smaller number of people involved means that speaking may not be as anxiety-making as in a large group. In addition, large groups are more likely to include people with a range of skills and this can allow for more specialization of labour. In addition, larger groups can also allow us to feel more anonymous. ‘As a result, we may exhibit less social responsibility…, which in turn will often lead to less task involvement and lower morale on the part of many group members as size increases’ (Baron 2003).

Group norms. Norms are basically rules of conduct that indicate what attitudes and behaviour might be expected or demanded in particular social situations and contexts. They are shared expectations of behaviour that set up what is desirable and appropriate in a particular setting or group. However, as soon as we talk about expected behaviour there is room for confusion. Here the norm is not referring to what is likely to occur, but what we think should occur. For example, we can expect a certain level of violence in town centres as the bars and clubs close, but most people would probably say that it shouldn’t be happening.

Socially established ‘and shared beliefs regarding what is normal, correct, true, moral and good generally have powerful effects on the thoughts and actions of group members’ (Baron et. al. 2003). Group norms develop in groups often because they are necessary for the group to survive and/or to achieve its ends. Group life is dependent upon trust and a certain amount of loyalty, for example. Furthermore, as Baron et al have commented, norms provide codes of behaviour that render social life more predictable and efficient’. They also act to reduce uncertainty in difficult situations. They provide a way forward for interaction.

Roles. The bundle of expectations and attributes linked to a social position can be seen as a role. In groups, people expect certain sorts of behaviour from those they see as the leader, for example. Various different ways of conceptualizing role have emerged in the study of groups e.g. ‘information giver’, ‘harmonizer’, ‘recorder’ and so on. Some of these schemes are helpful, some are not – but what cannot be disputed is the significance of role in groups. Different people play different roles – sometimes these are assigned (such as the in the membership of committees), sometimes they emerge through interaction. As Johnson and Johnson (2003) have put it, ‘Roles define the formal structure of the group and differentiate one position from another’. Crucially, different social roles are often linked to different degrees of status and power within the group.

iv. Group goals

An obvious, but sometimes overlooked, factor in group processes and dynamics is the reason why the group exists. What does it do for its members? What is its object? How it is created? As Alvin Zander (1985) has shown, the form that a group takes is often heavily dependent on its purpose. Moreover, a group will often have several and possibly conflicting purposes which can then become expressed as tensions between members.

Group goals are ideals – they are the ends (the aims or the outcomes) sought by the group and its members. They entail some sort of joint vision (Johnson and Johnson 2003). Without some commitment to the pursuit of common goals the group will not survive or be effective (Benson 2001). Of great significance then is what might be called goal structure. Here a key distinction is between cooperative and competitive goal structures: A co-operative goal structure develops when the individual goals of members are visible and similar… A competitive goal structure emerges where the individual goals of members are hidden or seen as different or opposed. (Benson 2001). Hidden agendas can be very destructive and lead to conflict in the group.

v. Group cohesion

Forsyth (2006: 13) makes the point that ‘Groups are not merely sets of aggregated, independent individuals; instead they are unified social entities. Groups cannot be reduced down to the level of the individual without losing information about the group unit, as a whole’. The notion of group cohesion – the forces or bonds that bind individuals to the collectively - is fundamental to an appreciation of groups. In some groups the power of the bonds, the feelings that group members have for each other and the extent to which they are prepared to cooperate to achieve their goals will be slight. In others these may be seen as strong. Here the word ‘seen’ is significant – for it may well be that a group is not experienced by its members as particularly co-operative, for example, but they, and those looking on, may believe it to be a social entity, a whole.

In recent years there has been a growing literature around ‘ group entitativity’ - the degree to which something appears to be a unified entity. Another way of thinking about this is as the ‘ group ness’ of the people you might be observing in a particular situation (Brown 1999). It was Donald T. Campbell (1958) who first used the term entitativity. He argued that when groups become real they possess the characteristics of entities (Forsyth 2006: 15). Campbell based his analysis on explorations into how the mind works when deciding when something is to be approached as a whole (a gestalt or something that cannot be described as the sum of its parts) or ‘a random collection of unrelated elements’ (Forsyth 2006: 15). When looking at people together in particular places (what he calls the ‘aggregate’) Campbell concluded that we depend on three main cues to make judgements about entitativity:

- Common fate – the extent to which individuals in the ‘aggregate’ seem to experience the same, or interrelated outcomes.
- Similarity – the extent to which the individuals display the same behaviours or resemble one another.
- Proximity – the distance among individuals in the ‘aggregate’ (or group). (described in Forsyth 2006: 15)

We might look, thus, at people seated around a table in a café or bar – we look at the extent to which they join in things together e.g. laughing, discussing; whether they acting in a similar way or have something in common e.g. in the way they dress, the things they have with them; and how closely they are sitting together.


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Understanding Interpersonal Relationship and Human Group Behavior
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Dr Ravinder Singh (Author)Upmesh K Talwar (Author)Dr Ajita Rani (Author), 2014, Understanding Interpersonal Relationship and Human Group Behavior, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/280961


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