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Social Influence and Group
A Group may be defined as an organized system of two or more individuals, who are interacting and interdependent, who have common motives, have a set of role relationships among its members, and have norms that regulate the behaviour of its members. They have the following salient characteristics:
A crowd is a collection of people who may be present at a place/situation by chance. Teams are groups where members often have complementary skills and are committed to a common goal or purpose. Members are mutually accountable for their activities,and there is a positive synergy attained through the coordinated efforts of the members.
An audience is a collection of people who have assembled for a specific purpose. They are generally passive but sometimes go into a frenzy and become mobs. In mobs, there is a definite sense of purpose. There is polarization in attention, and actions of persons Groups
are in a common direction. Mob behaviour is characterized by homogeneity of thought and behaviour as well as impulsivity.
People join groups for the following reasons:
• Security – Groups reduce the insecurity we feel when we are alone, as being with people gives a sense of comfort and protection. As a result, people feel stronger and are less vulnerable to threats.
• Status – When we are members of a group that is perceived to be important by others, we feel recognized and experience a sense of power.
• Self-esteem – Groups provide feelings of self-worth and establish a positive social identity. Being a member of a prestigious group enhances one’s self-concept.
• Satisfaction of one’s Psychological and Social Needs – Groups satisfy needs such as sense of belongingness, giving and receiving attention, etc.
• Goal Achievement – Groups help in achieving such goals which cannot be attained individually.
• Provide knowledge and information – As individuals, we may not have required information, which is supplemented by the group.
Group forming stages
Groups usually go through different stages of formation, conflict, stabilization,performance and dismissal. Tuckman suggested that groups pass through five developmental sequences: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
• Forming – When group members first meet, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the group, the goal and how it is to be achieved. People try to know each other and assess whether they will fit in.
• Storming – In this stage, there is conflict among members about how the target of the group is to be achieved, who is to control the group and its resources, and who is to perform what task. When this stage is complete, some sort of hierarchy of leadership in the group and a clear vision as to how to achieve the group goal develops.
• Norming – Group members by this time develop norms related to group behaviour. This leads to development of a positive group identity.
• Performing – The structure of the group has evolved and is accepted by group members. The group moves towards achieving the group goal.
• Adjourning – Not necessary for all groups, once the function is over, at this stage the group may be disbanded. Group structure develops as the members interact. Over time this interaction shows regularities in distribution of tasks to be performed, responsibilities assigned to members, and the prestige or relative status of members. Four important elements of group structure are:
• Roles – Socially defined expectations that individuals in a given situation are expected to fulfill. Roles refer to the typical behaviour that depicts a person in a given social context. Along with this, there are certain role expectations, i.e. the behaviour expected of someone in a particular role.
• Norms – Expected standards of behaviour and beliefs established, agreed upon and enforced by group members. They may be considered as a group’s ‘unspoken rules’.
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