Types of groups are our topic of discussion. But before we discuss types of groups we will take a look at its definitions, characteristics, Group dynamics and then we move to its kinds.

Definition Of Groups

A psychological group may be defined as two or more persons who meet the following conditions:

  1. The relation among the member’s behavior influences the behavior of each of the other.
  2. The members share an ideology- a set of beliefs values norms that regulate their mutual conduct.

This ideology is developed as the members of the group work together on common tasks. There are many types of groups that met these criteria; families, friendship circle, political clubs, work, educational, religious, neighborhood or recreational groups.

By groups we, generally, mean a set of individuals who share a common fate, that is who interdependent in the sense that an event which affects one member is likely to affect others.

a group of people discussing their work

Characteristics Of A Group

  • A group in the psychological sense is a unit of two or more individuals.
  • The members share a set of beliefs or values.
  • Members share a common purpose, task or goal.
  • There is a feeling of belongingness or “we feeling” among the members of the group.
  • The members prescribe a set of norms of behavior for themselves.
  • The relations among the members are interdependent.
  • The group has some kinds of structure to hold it together and attain the goals effectively. The structure is hierarchical where the function and powers are distributed.

What Is Group Dynamics

Group dynamics is the study of powerful, interrelated forces in groups, which Kurt Lewin called group Dynamics. For decades it is a hot issue of research in social psychology. Such studies allow us a closer look at our social behavior and how changes in behavior can make our life in groups more effective and satisfying.

Further Readings:

Factors Of Group Formation

We join groups to meet our physical, psychological and social needs. We are attracted to particular groups because of the major determinants of interpersonal attraction. There are different types of groups. Thus we can identify different major factors that influence our decision to join ad remain in a wide variety of groups.

light and dark blue background-types of groups

Proximity

Attraction to members of the group grows out of the group, grows out of proximity and frequency of interaction, (neighbors, schoolmates, roommates). We must remember that proximity creates only the potential for attraction; other factors usually come into play when actually establishing a relationship.

Similarity

The power of similarity, especially attitudinal similarity, appears to be as strong in group formation as in interpersonal attraction. In general, the similarity of attitudes, economic background, race, sex, and other variables tells us more about group formation.

Task/Goals

The task of a group is expressed in its activities and goals. It is often an important reason for joining. The group helps its members meet their individual needs. Someone joins the art club because he enjoys taking pictures and discussing that activity with others.

Someone joins a cricket team because it can’t be played individually. When someone joins the protest group against higher electricity charges because he can’t afford to pay more. In all these examples individuals are gaining rewards directly through group membership.

The application of social exchange theory to group formation predicts that we join and remain in groups. When the rewards outweigh the costs, thus yielding profits. We expect our profits to be proportional to the investments we put into the group we leave the group when outcome decreases.

Self Esteem

According to tajfel and Turner, people will come to identify with their social group. If it provides them with a source of positive self-esteem. People belong to groups because it enhances their own self-image.

Need Fulfillment

Group membership serves different functions for the individual. Through it, he satisfies his needs. It may serve some basic needs. Need fulfillment may protect him against external threats. It Also serves the affiliation wants and he desires for recognition and prestige.

All groups serve to meet the power want of some of the members and belongingness want of most of the members. Every group provides roles for its various members which differ in the amount of power.

Group membership may help us meet needs that lie outside the group. Thus group membership may be a stepping –stone to achieve an external goal rather than a source of direct satisfaction.

Group Attraction

Several attributes of groups generally make them more attractive to prospective members.

The more prestige a group can offer a member, the more attractive the group.

Cooperative relationships and joint rewards heighten the attractiveness of a group, whereas individual striving and competition detract from it.

The degree of positive interaction among members directly affects attractiveness since it increases the range of personal and social needs being met.

The size of the group affects its attraction smaller groups generally offer more possibility for interaction for sharing similarities, for meeting individuals’ needs and therefore tend to be more attractive.

Positive relations with other groups may add to the prestige etc of the group and make it more attractive.

Nothing succeeds like success. Groups that are perceived as meeting their goals effectively usually appear to be more attractive.

Affiliation

We join the group because we like to affiliate with the people in that group. We satisfy our need for affiliation through interacting with people just as we meet our need for achievement through the activities and goals of the group.

Whether we see affiliation as an innate need or a learned motive. We must acknowledge the power of attention and companionship as a social reinforcer. Whether, we affiliate for social comparison, or to reduce anxiety, or to satisfy an innate craving.

 It is clear that the group is a powerful forum for meeting our basic social needs and a strong influence or our behavior.

Group Structure

Communication networks are one form of group structure that lends stability to group interaction in the same way that beams and girders give physical structure and stability to a skyscraper.

Without a minimal degree of structure, the group falls apart just like an old building whose superstructure is blasted away by dynamite.

The social structure takes on many different forms. It affects the behavior of group members in a variety of ways, varying in their degree of formality.

Group Norms

Group norms bring continuity to the ways members relate to each other and to the outside world.

Positions And Roles

Positions and roles are visible aspects of group structure. That may be assigned to different members.

Status Hierarchies

Status hierarchies develop within the group either formally assigned through role definitions or developed informally as a result of continuous interaction.

The Distribution Of Power

It can become stabilized into a relatively constant pattern.

Leadership

Among all aspects of group structures, the element of leadership is central to its development. It is to the continuing effectiveness of the group.

Leadership has been seen as an expression of individual personality as the exercise of influence, as an instrument of goal achievement and as linked to the initiation of structure.

Types Of Groups

There are many types of groups. Now we will discuss all the types of groups.

people are sitting in a hotel-types of group

Primary Group

Our immediate family is a type of small group referred to as a primary group. As Cooley says, the primary group is the group in which there is an intimate face to face relationship among members and members are having “we feeling” maximum.

So in the primary group, there is frequent face to face contact on an intimate basis. In the same way, many of our friendship and peer groups and many of our workgroups organized to achieve a given goal are considered primary groups.

Secondary Groups

It is consists of larger more impersonal collections of individuals in which there is a lower level of interaction and intimacy such as professional organizations and community service clubs.

In the secondary group, relationships among the members are more or less casual and marked by a common interest, e.g trade unions, clubs.

Both primary and secondary groups serve as membership groups those in which we are active participants and may also serve as reference groups those which we may use whether we are members or not.

As a source of information and a standard of comparison for our own attitudes and behavior.

In other words, we understand and evaluate ourselves by making reference to groups that appear relevant to us for these purposes.

For example, when we are in high school, our group of friends is an important reference group for us. We share common attitudes and behavior and define ourselves as one of the groups.

At the same time, we might identify with a reference group to which we don’t belong. Students at the college we wish to attend and we may compare our attitudes and behavior to that group as well.

In Group-Out Group

W. G. Summer has classified the groups into two categories; in-group or the “we-group” with which we identify ourselves.

Out-group or “others group” is the group in which the members are considered as outsiders by us.

The process of social identification has a number of outcomes for how we perceive and interact with other people. One of these outcomes is that the identification with our own group leads to a tendency towards “them and us” thinking.

“We” are the in-group and they are seen as the out-group, and different from us. This is a powerful social process. This can be seen in many walks of life and it seems to result from the mental process of classification.

Formal And Informal Group

Formal groups are formed on the basis of specific norms, rules, and values. School comes under the category of a formal group. The group of students in a class is also an example of a formal group.

Playgroups, peer groups, and social clubs are examples of informal groups. Their rules are usually flexible.

Organized And Spontaneous Groups

The family and the school are examples of organized groups. That are formed for specific purposes and careful planning.

Spontaneous groups are formed without any careful planning after listening to a speech audience may from a spontaneous group.

Reference Group And Membership Group

Membership groups are simply those groups to which we belong and in which we participate.

Reference groups are used to evaluate our beliefs. Reference groups have important influences on the attitudes we adopt. Most often our membership and reference groups coincide, but not always.

A reference group is a group of similar others to which an individual refers her or his behavior, attitudes, or other characteristics for purposes of social comparison. It indicates the reference group may serve two functions.

  1. A comparison function in which group characteristics serve as a point of comparison for the individual
  2. A normative function in which the group evaluates the individual in relation to its standards of behavior or attitudes and rewards or punishes the member accordingly.

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