Group Dynamics

Topics: Sociology, Psychology, Social psychology Pages: 4 (1001 words) Published: November 8, 2005
Group Dynamics
The study of group dynamics is strongly influenced by the field of social psychology. Social psychologists try to understand human behavior in its broader social context, in contrast to most subfields of psychology which focus on the individual. In essence, social psychologists are interested in the ways that individuals, groups, and larger social aggregates influence people behaviorally, cognitively, affectively, and physiologically. Human behavior is thus viewed as a function of the social environment. The term dynamics pertains to the scientific study of motions produced by specific forces; in the study of group dynamics the focus is on social forces operating on individuals as members of human groups. Social processes operating in human groups may be examined at three levels of analysis: within individuals (intrapersonal), between individuals (interpersonal), and at the group level. Because social psychologists are psychologists, they tend to have an individualistic (intrapersonal) or interpersonal orientation, in contrast to the group-oriented approach of sociology. This has at times created a conceptual rift between psychologists and sociologists. As pointed out by group dynamicists have attempted to close (or at least bridge) the gap between individual- and group-level analyses. The Nature of Groups

In examining the nature of groups the focus is on defining the term group and identifying the typical characteristics of groups.

An adequate definition of the term group should strike a balance between being sufficiently broad to include most social aggregates that are true groups and being sufficiently narrow to exclude most social aggregates that are not true groups. The following formal definition meets these criteria: A group is (a) two or more individuals (b) who influence each other (c) through social interaction. Some theorists add a fourth element, namely that the aggregate should have common goals....
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