Chapter 5
Social Groups
• Everyone seeks a sense of belonging
–is two or more people who
identify and interact with one another.
• Not every collection of individuals can be
called a group.
• People with a status in common are not a
group, but a category.
Primary and Secondary
– is a small social group whose
members share your personal and enduring
• They are among the first groups we experience in
– a large and impersonal
social group whose members pursue a specific goal
or activity.
• They involve weak emotional ties. (see chart pg. 112)
Group Leadership
• Groups benefit from two types of leadership:
• 1)
the completion of tasks.
• 2)
collective well-being.
– emphasizes
– focuses on
Group Conformity Asch’s
conducts a classic experiment that
showed the power of groups in generating conformity.
• Arranging students around a table, he showed them a
• He asked them to match the line to one of three shown
on a card.
• One-third of all subjects conformed to the others by
answering incorrectly. (see page 113)
Milgram Experiment
studied obedience.
• He assigned subjects to the roles of “teacher” and
• Teachers applied false shocks to learners in response
to incorrect answers.
• He found people are likely to follow directions even
when it means inflicting harm on another person.
Group Conformity Janis’s
contends that a number of
United States foreign policy errors were
the result of group conformity.
– the tendency of group
members to conform, resulting in a
narrow view of some issue.
Reference Groups
• How do we assess our own attitudes and
• Often we are a reference group (ex: peer
– serve as point of
reference in making evaluations and decisions.
• Our need to conform means that other’s
attitudes greatly influence us.
Ingroups and Outgroups
• Everyone favors some groups over others.
– a social group commanding a
member’s esteem and loyalty.
– a social group toward which one
feels competitive or opposition.
• Tensions among the groups sharpen their
• What are your ingroups and outgroups?
Group Size
– a social group with two members.
• A dyad is intense and unstable.
– a social group with three members.
• A triad is more stable than a dyad because one
member can act as a mediator.
• Stability increases with group size. (see diagram
pg. 115)
Social Diversity:
Race, Class, and Gender
• Efforts to promote diversity may have an unintended
effect of promoting separatism.
• The more diverse a group, the more likely its members
are to interact with outsiders.
• If all groups have the same social standing, members of
all the groups will interact.
• If a group is physically segregated from others, its
members are less likely to associate with other people.
– a web of weak social ties.
• People who come into occasional contact.
• A social web reaching great distances.
• The feeling that we live in a “small world.”
• Ties may be weak, but they can be a powerful
• See map on page 118. Why are networks
Formal Organizations
– large secondary
groups that are organized to achieve their goals
• They operate in a deliberate way.
• They accomplish complex jobs.
• Large organizations develop cultures of their own
in order to last over time.
• What formal organizations do you belong to? (see
chart on page 119)
Types of Formal
– one that pays people for
their efforts.
– one that pursues some goal
believed to be morally worthwhile.
– one that forces people to join.
• Any particular organization may fall into all of these
• Can you think of organizations that fall into 2 or 3 of the
above categories?
– an organizational model rationally
designed to perform tasks efficiently.
• There are specific traits that promote efficiency:
Hierarchy of offices
Rules and regulations
Technical competence
Formal, written communication (see chart on pg. 121)
• How an organization performs depends on its
– factors
outside the organization that affect its
• Factors include technology, economic and
political trends, work force, and other
Problems of Bureaucracy
• It has the ability to dehumanize the people it is
supposed to serve.
• It creates alienation.
– a preoccupation
with rules and regulations to the point of
thwarting an organization’s goals.
– the tendency of the
organizations to perpetuate themselves. (see
graphs pages 125 -6)
The Evolution of Formal
– the application of
scientific principles to the operation of a
business or other large organizations.
• Managers carefully observe the task
performed by each worker.
• Managers analyze data and provide guidance.
The “McDonaldization”
of Society
• McDonalds has enjoyed enormous success
around the world.
• The organization principles that underlie it are
coming to dominate our entire society.
• Where do you see “McDonaldization” through
the U.S. and the world?
Discussion Questions
• What are the 5 most important social groups to which
you currently belong? Which are primary and which are
secondary? Compare the sizes. Do you see any patterns?
• Think of 3 examples of your yielding to group conformity?
What factors caused you to conform?
• How might a group reduce
• In the Asch and Milgram experiments do you think that
groups of people who already knew each other would
demonstrate more or less conformity? Why?
• Do you think Milgram’s experiments were ethical?
• What are some of your most valued reference groups?