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Group dynamics

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The following are not solely my thoughts, but an amalgam of information gathered through education and research. I posted this once in the regular forum during a debate with a former member. This is also my first ever blog. Group dynamics play a bigger role in survival then many give it credit for. Group dynamics is also vital to the survival of this forum.

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.

In organizational development, or group dynamics, the phrase "group process" refers to the understanding of the behavior of people in groups, such as task groups, that are trying to solve a problem or make a decision. An individual with expertise in 'group process, such as a trained facilitator, can assist a group in accomplishing its objective by diagnosing how well the group is functioning as a problem-solving or decision-making entity and intervening to alter the group's operating behavior.

Because people gather in groups for reasons other than task accomplishment, group process occurs in other types of groups such as personal growth groups (e.g. encounter groups, study groups, prayer groups). In such cases, an individual with expertise in group process can be helpful in the role of facilitator.

Well researched but rarely mentioned by professional group workers, is the social status of people within the group (i.e., senior or junior). The group leader (or facilitator) will usually have a strong influence on the group due to his or her role of shaping the group's outcomes. This influence will also be affected by the leader's sex, race, relative age, income, appearance, and personality, as well as organizational structures and many other factors.

Groups of individuals gathered together to achieve a goal or objective, either as a committee or some other grouping, go through several predictable stages before useful work can be done. These stages are a function of a number of variables, not the least of which is the self-identification of the role each member will tend to play, and the emergence of natural leaders and individuals who will serve as sources of information. Any individual in a leadership position whose responsibilities involve getting groups of individuals to work together should both be conversant with the phases of the group process and possess the skills necessary to capitalize on these stages to accomplish the objective of forming a productive, cohesive team

The developmental process of small groups can be viewed in several ways. Firstly, it is useful to know the persons who compose a particular small group. (This is where introductions come in)
• People bring their past experiences
• People come with their personalities (their perceptions, attitudes and values)
• People also come with a particular set of expectations
•The priorities and expectations of persons comprising a group can influence the manner in which the group develops over a period of time

StagesViewing the group as a whole we observe definite patterns of behavior
occurring within a group. These can be grouped into stages.

FIRST STAGEThe initial stage in the life of a group is concerned with forming a group.
This stage is characterized by members seeking safety and protection, tentativeness of response, seeking superficial contact with others, demonstrating dependency on existing authority figures. Members at this stage either engage in busy type of activity or show apathy.

SECOND STAGEThe second stage in a group is marked by the formation of dyads and triads. Members seek out familiar or similar individuals and begin a deeper sharing of self. Continued attention to the subgroup creates a differentiation in the group and tensions across the dyads/triads may appear. Pairing is a common phenomenon.

THIRD STAGEThe third developmental stage is marked by a more serious concern. The dyads/triads begin to open up and seek out other members in the group. Efforts are made to establish various norms. Members begin to take greater responsibility for their own group and relationship while the authority figure becomes relaxed.

FOURTH STAGEThis is a stage of a fully functional group where members see themselves as a group and get involved. Each person makes a contribution and the authority figure is also seen as a part of the group. Group norms are followed and collective pressure is exerted to ensure the effectiveness of the group. The group redefines its goals in the light of information from the outside environment and shows an autonomous will to pursue those goals. The long-term viability of the group is established and nurtured.

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Updated 02-02-2011 at 11:04 PM by klkak