TWO OR MORE INDIVIDUALS A group can range in size from two members to thousands of members. Very small collectives, such as dyads (two members) and triads (three members) are groups, but so are very large collections of people, such as mobs, crowds, and congregations (Simmel, 1902). On average, however, most groups tend to be relatively small in size, ranging from two to seven members. One researcher ( J. James, 1953), after counting the number of people in 7405 informal, spontaneously formed groups found in public settings, reported an average group size of only 2.4. He also found that deliberately formed groups, such as those created in government or work settings, included an average of 2.3 members ( J. James, 1951). In many cases, larger groups are also sets of interlocked smaller groups. Although groups come in all shapes and sizes, they tend to “gravitate to the smallest size, two” (Hare, 1976, p. 215). The size of a group influences its nature in many ways, for a group with only two or three members possesses many unique characteristics simply because it includes so few members. The dyad is, by definition, the only group that dissolves when one member leaves and the only group that can never be broken down into subgroups ( J. M. Levine & Moreland, 1995). Very large collectives, such as mobs, crowds, or congregations, also have unique qualities. In a very large group, for example, the chances for each member to be connected to all other members becomes very small. As groups increase in size, they tend to become more complex and more formally structured (Hare, 1976). By definition, however, all are considered groups.
WHO ARE CONNECTED TO ONE ANOTHER Like a series of interconnected computers, the individuals in any given group are networked: They are connected one to another. These connections, or ties, may be strong emotional bonds, like the links between the members of a family or a clique of close friends. The links may also be relatively weak ones that...
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