Group dynamics is the study of groups, and also a general term for group processes. Relevant to the fields of psychology, sociology, and communication studies, a group is two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships. Because they interact and influence each other, groups develop a number of dynamic processes that separate them from a random collection of individuals.
These processes include norms, roles, relations, development, need to belong, social influence, and effects on behavior. The field of group dynamics is primarily concerned with small group behavior. Groups may be classified as aggregate, primary, secondary and category groups.
•Key theoristsGustave Le Bon was a French social psychologist whose seminal study, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1896) led to the development of group psychology. Sigmund Freud’s Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, (1922) based on a critique of Le Bon’s work, led to further development in theories of group behavior in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Kurt Lewin (1943, 1948, 1951) is commonly identified as the founder of the movement to study groups scientifically. He coined the term group dynamics to describe the way groups and individuals act and react to changing circumstances. William Schutz (1958, 1966) looked at interpersonal relations from the perspective of three dimensions: inclusion, control, and affection.
This became the basis for a theory of group behavior that sees groups as resolving issues in each of these stages in order to be able to develop to the next stage. Conversely, a group may also devolve to an earlier stage if unable to resolve outstanding issues in a particular stage. Wilfred Bion (1961) studied group dynamics from a psychoanalytic perspective, and stated that he was much influenced by Wilfred Trotter for whom he worked at University College Hospital London, as did another key figure in the Psychoanalytic movement, Ernest Jones. Many of Bion’s findings were reported in his published books, especially Experiences in Groups.
The Tavistock Institute has further developed and applied the theory and practices developed by Bion. Bruce Tuckman (1965) proposed the four-stage model called Tuckman’s Stages for a group.
Tuckman’s model states that the ideal group decision-making process should occur in four stages: •Forming (pretending to get on or get along with others); •Storming (letting down the politeness barrier and trying to get down to the issues even if tempers flare up ); •Norming (getting used to each other and developing trust and productivity); •Performing (working in a group to a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis).
Tuckman later added a fifth stage for the dissolution of a group called adjourning. (Adjourning may also be referred to as mourning, i.e. mourning the adjournment of the group). It should be noted that this model refers to the overall pattern of the group, but of course individuals within a group work in different ways. If distrust persists, a group may never even get to the norming stage. M. Scott Peck developed stages for larger-scale groups (i.e., communities) which are similar to Tuckman’s stages of group development. Peck describes the stages of a community as: •Pseudo-community
•Chaos•Emptiness•True CommunityCommunities may be distinguished from other types of groups, in Peck’s view, by the need for members to eliminate barriers to communication in order to be able to form true community. Examples of common barriers are: expectations and preconceptions; prejudices; ideology, counterproductive norms, theology and solutions; the need to heal, convert, fix or solve and the need to control. A community is born when its members reach a stage of “emptiness” or peace. Application
Group dynamics form a basis for group therapy, often with therapeutic approaches that are formed of groups such as family therapy and the expressive therapies. Politicians and sales personnel may use their knowledge of the principles of group dynamics to aid their cause. Increasingly, group dynamics are of interest in light of online social interaction and virtual communities made possible by the internet. Software Project Management
The agile software development which puts emphasis on people rather than processes has been interested in Group Dynamics. It is then known that some agile practices (Collective Code Ownership and pair programming) must be taken with care because developers in a team-rewarded team will eventually try to match their efforts to the average of what they think their teammates are doing (Lui and Chan). See also
•Cog’s Ladder•Collaboration•Collaborative method•Crowd psychology•Facilitator•Forming-storming-norming-performing•Group-dynamic games•Group (sociology)•Group conflict•Group selection•Groupthink•Group process•Interpersonal relationships•Small-group communication•Talking circle•Counterproductive normsNotes1.^ Forsyth, D.R. (2006) Group Dynamics2.^ Peck, M. S. (1987) The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace.p. 95-103. References•Bion, W. R. 1961. Experiences in Groups: And Other Papers. Tavistock. Reprinted, 1989 Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04020-5 •Forsyth, D.R. 2006. Group Dynamics, 4th Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 0-534-36822-0 . •Freud, Sigmund (1922) Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.
New York: Liveright Publishing. •Homans, G. C. 1974. Social Behavior: Its Elementary Forms, Rev. Ed. New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-581417-6 •Le Bon, G. (1896) The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. London: Ernest Benn Limited. •Lewin, K. (1947) Frontiers in group dynamics 1. Human Relations 1, 5-41. — (1948) Resolving Social Conflicts: Selected Papers on Group Dynamics. New York: Harper & Row. •Lui and Chan (2008)
Software Development Rhythms, John Wiley and Sons. •Peck, M.S. 1987. The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84858-9 •Schutz, W. 1958. FIRO: A Three-Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. •Tuckman, B. 1965. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological bulletin, 63, 384-399.