Welcome to a
Presentation on
Group Dynamics
Courtesy of:
(a.k.a. Brooke, Jessica, Suzie, Jess, & Kayla)
What is group
Group dynamics
• Group dynamics refers to what is HAPPENING IN
• Refers to complex forces that are acting upon
every thought
The History of
The History of Group Dynamics
•The study of small group behavior is a
relatively modern development.
It’s a sub-discipline of social psychology
•Group research was a popular topic within
social psychology in North America during the
‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s.
Many of the studies during this time were
done in controlled, artificial laboratory
settings with short-term groups.
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…
The Schools of Research
• The Michigan School
The Harvard School
The Illinois School
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…
The Michigan School
• Was called this because many of the it’s early
researchers came from the University of
• Treated groups as social systems that influence
• The bulk of the work that from the Michigan
School perspective was laboratory experimental,
involving groups of strangers, working under
artificial conditions, and for short time periods.
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…
The Harvard School
• Treated groups as social systems for patterning
human interaction.
• Was called this because much of it was inspired
by and built around R. F. Bales and his colleagues
at Harvard University.
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…
The Illinois School
• Was called this because a lot of its contributors had
a connection with the University of Illinois.
• Treated groups as systems for getting tasks
• A relatively small portion of work from this
perspective tried to explore systematically the
differential effects of various input conditions of
group performance of tasks of different types.
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…
Weaknesses of the Different Schools
By the late ’60s and early ‘70s group research
– Because each school had distinct objectives,
none of the schools really paid attention to
each other.
– As a result, Each school eventually reached
the limits of what could be learned within
that closely bound paradigm
The History of Group Dynamics Continued…
• Research flourished simultaneously in a number
of other disciplines like organizational behavior,
speech communication, and political science.
– The study of small groups in other fields
blended work from more than just one of the
Kurt Lewin
The Basics
• Considered to be the founder of this whole
movement to study groups scientifically
• Coined the term “group dynamics”
• Definition: the way groups react to changing
And More Lewin
Roots: Gestalt psychology- theory and practice,
laboratory techniques applies to social behavior
(evident in T-Groups TBD)
Interested in how group interactions can be
uniform, like identifying patterns of behavior
More Lewin
2 Ideas Within Group Dynamics:
- interdependence of fate (individual’s fate depends
on the group’s fate)
- and task interdependence (group becomes a
group because they share a common objective)
•National Training Laboratories:
A training program for groups, now used for team
• Was partly used for research- it is a laboratory
method with observation by trainers and
• It is individual learning for participants, you can
learn about yourself, how you interact with others
• Totally focused on the process
• Feedback is key
T-Group Objectives
(a lot like what we’re learning in core)
• Increase your understanding of group development and dynamics.
• Gaining a better understanding of the underlying social processes
at work within a group (looking under the tip of the iceberg)
• Increase interpersonal skills
• Experiment with changes in your behavior
• Increase your skill in facilitating group effectiveness.
• Increase your awareness of your own feelings in the moment; and
offer you the opportunity to accept responsibility for your feelings.
• Increase your ability to manage and utilize conflict.
• Increase your understanding of the impact of your behavior on
• Increase your sensitivity to others' feelings.
• Increase your ability to give and receive feedback.
• Increase your ability to learn from your own and a group's
Robert F. Bales
• Professor at Harvard, where he received his PhD
• His research focused on interpersonal interaction
in small groups and searched for reoccurring
patterns- influenced by Kurt Lewin
Bale’s Coding systems
First coding system was IPA (Interactive Process
Analysis), which was used to classify group behavior
into task- and relationship-oriented behaviors
This then developed into SYMLOG (Systematic
Multiple Level Observation of Groups) in 1970
A method of rating or scoring group interaction by
an observer or by the participants themselves
The multiple levels are: non-verbal and verbal
behaviors with sublevels within those, also the
identification of judgments
Simplified rating form: Reading was an example of a
SYMLOG questionnaire
Adjective Ratings
“Dominance/submission. Is this member active,
outgoing, and talkative - or passive, quiet and
Friendliness/unfriendliness. Is this member warm,
open and positive – or negative and irritable?
Acceptance of authority/non-acceptance of
authority. Is this member analytical, and taskoriented – or emotional, untraditional and
(possibly) resentful?”
information on
Topics in Group dynamics
• Group development:
1. Forming: comes together and gets to know one another
2. Storming: a chaotic vying for leadership
3. Norming: eventually agreement on group operation
4. Performing: the group practices is crafted and becomes effective in
its meaning objectives
• 5. Adjourning: in forming the group
• Group Size: optimal is between 6-16
• Risky Shift: the risks people take individually versus what
they will do in groups
• Social Support
• Group Mix
• Group Norms
Group culture
• Small groups form their own culture
• “Small groups evolve ideals and traditional ways of doing
things, and those ideals and traditions also become
normative.“ (Wilson & Hanna, p.39)
• For successful group a collectivist culture needs to take
precedence over the individual needs
• Collectivist Culture: a culture that values group needs
and goals more than individual needs and goals
Group culture
• A shared culture allows for group goals to be formed
• Knowing each goal
• Halfway measure enforcing emerging norms that each
member had on an assignment
• Encouraging each other
• This aids in building a NORM of quality within the group
Group Dynamics:
Important Terms
Group Form
Group Dynamics: Group Form
• Group form is also known as composition.
Within group form are the concepts of:
– Norms
– Status
– Roles
– Network
Group Norms
• GROUP NORMS: standards behavior of groups
impose on their members
• Group rules are created
• The do’s and the don’ts that result from the
interactions of group members over time
• Standard model/pattern of behavior form
• Norms evolve!
Evolution of Group Norms
• 1. Collective evaluation: shared beliefs about what should be
• 2. Collective expectation: predictions of what people will do
rather than what they ought to
• This creates a group truth
• 3. Reaction to behavior/adaptation to behavior
• **EVOLUTION of norms is important to group and can help
with success and cohesiveness
• If there are damaging norms groups can
• Identify the concern
• Ask group members to discuss their perceptions
• Finally find an agreement to grow from
Group Structure
• This is the how and what of group communication
• Communication networks are complex in the organization but
can establish hierarchy for its members
• Groups can without any trail and notion can work on
communication patterns – TRIAL AND ERROR
• In five person networks
• Wheel and chain type of communication pattern is
more efficient since it centralizes on the network
• Centralized networks are useful for solving complex
Group Dynamics: Status
•Status: A positive or negative position based off of one’s
power, prestige, access to resources, and other means.
•Types of Status:
•Ascribed (Given)
•Achieved (Earned)
•Social Stratification: A categorization of individuals
based off of their power and wealth in a given society.
•Major-Race, Ethnicity, gender, etc.
•Hidden- Age, weight, disability, etc.
Group Dynamics: Development
• There are many new ways of how to form
groups, which then in turn creates different
ways of having group dynamics.
– Reasons why ascribed and achieved
Group Dynamics: Network
• Network: Patterns of connection among a set
group of points.
• Wheel-Centralized
• Chain- Serial/Compare parallel
• Circle- Closed
• Completely Connected-Distributed
• Redundantly Connected-Districted
Group Roles
• Your role is the part you play in a group.
• Formal roles: are assigned on the basis of a
member's formal position or title and are
sometimes called positional roles.
• Informal roles: sometimes called behavioral
roles, are the parts people play that reflect
their personality traits, habits, and behaviors
in the group.
Role Functions in a small Group
Task Roles: Encompass behaviors that
contribute to the accomplishment of the
group’s task.
Initiating and orienting
Information giving
Information seeking
Opinion giving
Consensus testing
Suggesting Procedure
Role Functions in a
small Group
Maintenance Roles: Incorporate those
behaviors that help the group maintain
harmonious relationships and a cohesive
interpersonal climate.
Establishing norms
Tension relieving
Showing solidarity
Role Functions in a
small Group
Individual Roles: Consist of selfcentered behaviors.
• With drawing
• Blocking
• Status seeking and
recognition seeking
• Playing
• Acting helpless
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Knowles M. & Knowles H. (1959) Introduction to group dynamics. Broadway, NY.
Association Pres.
Light Bryan Consulting. (n. d.). The history of group dynamics. Retrieved from
Kagan, J., Kelman, H. C., Stone, P. J., & Mahler, B. A. (2005). Robert Freed Bales. Retrieved from
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