Group Dynamics Activities
Forsyth's Group Dynamics (3rd ed) includes at the end of each chapter 2 activities that students can complete. These activities (in some cases slightly revised) are listed below. (The activities remain under the copyright protection of Wadsworth Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Instructors of classes using Group dynamics, Third Edition, as a textbook may reproduce material for classroom use. Otherwise, this text may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transcribed, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher. )
Activity 1-1: What is a group?
Humans are social animals, for we naturally gravitate away from isolated circumstances into groups. But what, precisely, is a group?
Which collections of people listed below are groups, and which ones are not? After you label each one as Group, Aggregate (just collection of individuals), or ? if you aren't certain, rank order them from 1 (most groupy) to 18 (least).
|1||.||The spectators at a college football game.|
|2||.||A man and a woman flirting with each other, having just met each other for the first time in a singles club.|
|3||.||All the students in a group dynamics class.|
|4||.||All people who work as accountants.|
|5||.||A mob of rioters burning stores in the inner city.|
|6||.||Individuals waiting in silence at a bus stop.|
|7||.||The Smith family of New York (Mr. Smith, Mrs. Smith, and Jane Smith, their daughter) dining together.|
|8||.||All women in Richmond VA who have blue eyes.|
|9||.||All the faculty in the department of political science on a Sunday afternoon.|
|10||.||All people who think of themselves as Germans.|
|11||.||People who drive Saturns.|
|12||.||A mosh pit during a concert.|
|13||.||A secretary talking to the boss by telephone.|
|14||.||Six employees wearing sound-muffling headphones working on an assembly line.|
|15||.||The Rolling Stones fan club|
|16||.||Five adolescent males who hang out together skateboarding on a city corner.|
|17||.||A committee deciding the best way to handle a production problem|
|18||.||Five people talking to each other on-line in a computer "chat room."|
Activity 1-2: Do groups play an influential role in your life?
Almost all of our time is spent interacting in groups; we are educated in groups, we work in groups, we worship in groups, and we play in groups. But even though we live our lives in groups, we often take them for granted. Consider their influence on you by enumerating the groups to which you belong, as well as those that influence you.
1. Make a list of all the groups you belong to now. List as many as possible; don't forget family, clubs, sport teams, classes, social groups, cliques of friends, workteams, and social categories that are meaningful to you (e.g., American).
2. Do any of the groups you belong to transform members into a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts? Do they have supervening qualities?
3. Which group has changed the most over time? Describe this change briefly?
4. Which group is highest in "entitativity" (others perceive it to be real)?
5. Which group has influenced you, as an individual, the most? Explain the group's influence on you briefly.
6. Identify five groups that you do not belong to, but that influence you in some way. Of these groups, which one influences you--your behaviors, your emotions, or your outcomes--the most?
Activity 2-1: What do groups do?
Find an aggregate of individuals in some public place. Observe the grouping of people for at least 20 minutes, and be sure to take notes. Answer the following questions.
1. Where did you find your group?
2. What were the characteristics of the people in the group?
3. How were the people arranged in the physical environment? (You may include a diagram if you wish.)
4. What were the characteristics of the group (rather than the people in the group)?
a. Interaction: How were the members interacting with each other?
b. Structure: Could you discern the group's norms, roles, status hierarchy, or communication patterns?
c. Cohesiveness: Did the group seem unified?
d. Identity: Do you think the members shared a sense of identity with one another?
e. Goals: What was the group's purpose?
5. Was the aggregate you observed a "group" in the text's sense of the word? Was it high in "entitativity", or perceived groupness, or was it a loose conglomeration?
6. Critique your study of the group, from a measurement standpoint. How could you have increased the scientific accuracy and value of your observations?
7. Did anything about the group puzzle or surprise you? Did your observation raise questions that could be answered through research?
Measure the patterns of communication among members or study the content of a group's discussion. Find a group to observe, such as a classroom discussing a topic (but not a classroom listening to a lecture), a meeting of a governmental group, a meeting at your place of work, or even a group featured in a television program or movie. Next, study the group's communication patterns and the content of the discussion.
1. Communication analysis. Document who speaks to whom using a chart like the one shown in Figure 2-5 to help you keep track of the information flow. When, for example, Erick speaks to Kelley, record the interaction in the Erick-to-Kelley box. At the end of the meeting compute the percentage of contributions of each member and general speaking patterns. If the communication rate is not too great, you can also record how long each member speaks and turn-taking exchanges (who speaks after who). Use the data you collect to draw conclusions about the group's structure and process.
2. Content analysis. Analyze the content of the discussion by classifying each remark using a structured coding system such as the Bales's Interaction Process Analysis, SYMLOG (Bales, Cohen, & Williamson, 1979), or a system that you personally devise. The categories of the Interaction Process Analysis (IPA), for example, are shown in Table 2-1. To use the system develop a chart like the one shown in Figure 2-6. Each time an individual makes a remark, classify it into one of the IPA categories and record who said it by marking the appropriate column on the form. If, for example, Erick says "I don't think that is such a good idea," then mark the gives opinion box. Use the data you collect to draw conclusions about the group's structure and process.
Figure 2-5. Who speaks to whom in the group? When observing a group, develop a table like this one to keep track of the group discussion. Each time a member speaks to another member, make a note of it in the appropriate column. You can then use the information to identify the group's discussion leader, and subgroups of members that were more or less active in the discussion.
Figure 2-6. What kinds of information did members exchange in their group? This chart is based on the Interaction Process Analysis categories. Each time a member speaks, classify the remark into one of the 12 categories shown in the left-hand column, and indicate who said it by using the grid. You can then use the information to identify the overall content of the group's discussion.
|Asks for information|
|Asks for opinion|
|Asks for suggestion|
Activity 3-1: How much is your sense of self based on your groups?
How much of your self is personal and how much is interpersonal? Explore your sense of self by taking the "Who am I" twenty-statements test (Kuhn and McPartland, 1954).
1. Number the lines on a sheet of paper from 1 to 20. On each line, complete the statement "I am ..." with whatever aspect of yourself comes to mind. Answer as if you were talking to yourself, not to somebody else. Write the answers in the order they occur to you, and don't worry if they aren't logical or factual. Do not continue reading about this activity until after you finish making your list!
2. Read each statement and then classify it into one of two categories. Collective qualities are any descriptions that refer to the self in relationship to others. It includes roles ("I am a student,"), family relations ("I am a mother,"), ethnicity, race, gender, and origins (e.g., "I am an African American" or "I am from the States"), and religion. Individualistic qualities are qualities that apply to you personally, such as traits, attitudes, habits, and mood (e.g., I am intelligent," or "I like to play soccer").
3. Summarize your self-concept by computing the percentage of your self that is individualistic versus collectivistic.
a. Is your self-concept more individualistic or collectivistic?
b. Did you tend to list collective qualities earlier in the list than individualistic ones?
c. Was it difficult to classify the self-descriptions as either individualistic or collectivistic?
d. Which qualities are more central to your identity: the collective components or the individualistic components?
Activity 3-2: What is your collective self-esteem?
Your evaluation of yourself--your self-esteem--depends on both the value you put on your individual qualities as well as the value you put on your collective ones.
1. Select one social group or category that you belong to and with which you identify strongly. The group could be an actual social group, such as a team, a church congregation, or your university. It could also be a social category that reflects your race, your gender, your religion, or your ethnicity.
2. Describe the importance of this group for your identity.
a. Do you frequently characterize people, including yourself, as inside or outside this group?
b. Have you listened to other people's discussions of what it means to belong to this group?
c. Have you explored what membership in this group means to you personally?
d. Has your connection to this group changed over time?
3. Explore your collective self-esteem by answering these four sets of questions about this group (based on Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992).
a. Membership esteem: Do you feel that you are a valuable member of this group? Do you feel good about the contributions to make to it?
b. Private esteem: Do you evaluate this group positively? Are you proud to be a part of this group?
c. Public esteem: Do other people evaluate this group positively? Do nonmembers respect this group?
d. Identity esteem: Is this group an important part of your identity?
Activity 4-1: How does interpersonal attraction develop in groups?
Join together with other people in a classroom group and discuss an issue selected by the instructor. When the group meeting is over, reflect on the processes that unfolded as you got to know the other group members. Consider your feelings and experiences, and try to reason out the causes of your reactions, satisfactions, and emotions.
1. Describe your interpersonal behavior in the group. Did you act in a way that others would consider to be dominant? friendly? helpful? supportive? active? List the other people in the group, and describe them using adjectives or short phrases, such as "seemed interested," "took control," "helpful," and so on.
2. Was there anyone in the group who you particularly liked? What was it about that person that attracted you?
3. Someone in the group probably impressed you less than everyone else. What was it about that person that caused you to react less positively?
4. How did you react to the group, as a whole? Did you like being a member of the group?
5. How did the group react to you at the interpersonal level? Do you think the group liked and accepted you? If yes, why? If no, why?
Activity 4-2: What are the rewards and costs of group membership?
What do your groups do for you? What rewards do they provide you that offset the costs they create for you?
1. Describe a group that you have been an active member of for at least 3 months.
2. What do you get out of membership in the group?
a. Does the group accept you? Does it satisfy your need to belong?
b. Is the group a source of interesting experiences or new ideas? Is it a source of useful information?
c. Do you like the other people in the group? Do you enjoy being with them?
d. Do you enjoy the group activities?
e. Does the group help you accomplish tasks and reach goals that are important for you personally?
f. Do you enjoy taking charge in the group?
g. Does the group help you in various ways? Do members provide you with social support? with advice? with tangible assistance, such as money, food, or the like?
2. What kind of costs do you incur by belonging to the group?
a. Does belonging the group take time away from other activities?
b. Is it expensive, in terms of money, to belong to the group?
c. Does the group pressure you into doing things you would rather avoid?
d. Do you dislike some people in the group, and so dread some group functions?
e. Are you frequently bored by the group?
3. Overall, what is your evaluation of the group, and your commitment to this group? Do you plan to remain a member for very long?
Activity 5-1: What is group structure?
Take a moment and reflect on the structure of a group to which you belong. This group can be one that meets regularly in a work or social setting, or a subgroup of the students within a class. (You can even consider your family's structure!) Describe the group's structure in terms of roles, norms, and intermember relations.
1. List the members of your group by first name.
2. Describe each person's behavior with 3 or more adjectives and a role label such as leader, follower, Mr. Friendly, deviate, joker, silent member, conformist, high talker, or brains.
3. List some of the norms that existed in your group. Are any of these norms relatively unique or unusual? Did anyone violate any norms, and need censuring by the group?
4. Draw a diagram of the authority relations in the group, placing the leader at the top, followed by those next in status, and so on.
5. Draw a sociogram of your group that reflects patterns of attraction. Use your best judgment to determine who likes and dislikes whom.
6. Graph the communication network in your group. How efficient is the organization? How can it be changed to be more effective?
Activity 5-2: What is sociometry?
Group dynamicist Jacob L. Moreno found that he could reduce the amount of conflict in groups if he grouped together people who liked one another. He developed sociometry to help him accurately measure social relationships.
1. Find a group of people who are willing to answer a few questions about the group. Once they agree to help you, ask each member three questions: Who do you respect the most? Who do you like the most? Who do you communicate with the most?
2. Summarize these choices by drawing a sociogram. Draw circles to represent each group member, then use capped lines to indicate respect, liking, and communication. If the group is large you may need to draw three separate graphs, one for each type of relationship.
3. Redraw the diagram, putting people who are frequently chosen in the center, and those who are not at the periphery. You may need to try several arrangements to find one that gives you a clear diagram of the group.
4. In several sentences draw some conclusions about the group based on the sociogram. Identify:
stars: highly popular members.
isolates: infrequently chosen individuals.
pairs: reciprocal partners.
clusters: subgroups or cliques.
Activity 6-1: In what ways do groups change over time?
Study the long-term development of a group to which you currently belong or once belonged. Select a group that has a history that you can document, rather than one that has only recently formed. Classes that meet for a semester before they disband, sports teams, project teams at work, and informal friendship cliques are just a few of the types of groups you could examine.
1. Begin by describing the group in detail as it existed when it first formed. Give examples and anecdotal evidence when appropriate.
2. Describe any changes that took place in the group over time. Make note of the extent to which the group experienced (a) an orientation stage, (b) conflict, (c) increased cohesion and changes in structure, and (4) a period of high performance. Which of the two theories discussed in the book--Tuckman's stage model or Bale's equilibrium model--best describes your group?
3. Discuss group socialization processes, focusing on yourself. Has your evaluation, commitment, and role in the group changed over time. Has the group changed is evaluation and commitment to you?
Activity 6-2: What is a team?
Teams are groups, but what makes them unique? Their unity? Their focus on group goals? The interdependence among members? Explore these questions by interviewing at least 2 members of the team: a workgroup in a business setting, a sports team, a policy or military squad, or a surgical team are all good examples of the kinds of groups to investigate. Ask members five sets of questions and record their answers before drawing general conclusions.
1. Interdependence questions:
Do the members of the group work well together?
Are there any problems coordinating the group's activities?
Do people work together or do they primarily work on their own projects?
What happens when a group member doesn't perform up to the group's standards?
2. Structure questions:
How organized is the group?
Is it clear who is supposed to do what?
Are there conflicts about who is in charge?
3. Cohesiveness questions:
Would you say that your group is a cohesive, tight-knit one?
Do people like each other?
Does the group have much turnover?
4. Social identity questions:
Does the group have a name?
Are group members proud to say that they are a member of this group?
Do the group members share a sense of identity with each other?
5. Goal questions:
Do members of your group put the group's goal about their own individual goals?
Do members work hard to reach the group's goals?
Does the group have a specific mission or goal?
Activity 7-1: What does social influence look like?
Carry out one of these studies of conformity in everyday life.
1. Everyday conformity. Look for conformity in such places as the lines at a fast-food restaurant, bus stops as people wait for a bus, or the library (do people conform to the posted rules, or do they conform to informal norms). Or look at the students who pass by a particular point on campus, and make a note of their appearance and dress. Are they all individuals, or do they conform to an implicit dress-code?
2. Creating conformity. Carry out a field study of influence. For example: Ask passersby to sign a petition, and in some cases have a friend model compliance just before the subject passes; Arrange for groups of people ranging in size from 2 to 10 to stare up at the top of a building, and note how many passersby join in the staring; Wearing a groundskeeper clothes or regular clothes, order people to get off the grass. (Before you carry out such studies--even informally--get approval from authorities. Do not carry out such studies alone or away from campus.)
3. Experiencing nonconformity. Violate norms of civility and observe people's reactions. On a crowded bus, hum loudly. Or, if you have more courage, sing out loud. Ask the staff at the fast food restaurant "What looks good on the menu today?" Try to barter for a small purchase at a fast-food store. When someone says "Hi, how are you," ask them "Do you mean physically, mentally, or financially?" Watch people's reactions.
Activity 7-2: Are you a conformist?
If you meet regularly in a group, take a moment and reflect on its influence on you. Do you change your behavior when you are in this group? Has the group influenced you, in some way, even when you are no longer in the group?
1. Describe the group briefly: its composition, structure, dynamics, and tasks. How long have you belonged to the group, and what is your role in the group?
2. Is the group an influential one for you, personally? To answer this question, briefly describe your basic personality in terms of the these five qualities: introversion/extraversion (outgoing vs. reserved), agreeable (friendly vs. aloof), conscientious (responsible vs. uninvolved), stability (assured vs. nervous), and openness (open to ideas vs. conservative). Do your actions in the group reflect your personal qualities, or do you act in ways that are inconsistent with your personality in this group?
3. People differ in their tendency to conform in groups. Do you have any conformity-increasing qualities? Are you shy? Do you prefer to change your behavior to match the demands of situations in which you find yourself? Do you avoid attracting too much attention to yourself when you are in social settings? Are you generally uncertain about the validity of your opinions and conclusions? Are you more introverted than extraverted?
Activity 8-1: Do people underestimate the power of groups?
People often overlook social determinants of actions but they overestimate the causal role played by internal, personal factors. When we read about Milgram's subjects or the members of radical religious groups, we assume that they were weak, gullible people who were easily influenced. Yet, these individuals' actions were largely a consequence of the powerful situations in which they found themselves.
1. Talk to people about the Milgram experiment. Ask them if they are familiar with the research, and if necessary clarify the procedure and findings for them. Ask them:
Why do you think so many people obeyed the experimenter?
If you had been a subject in the study, would you have obeyed the experimenter?
2. Talk to people about radical religious groups, generally called cults. Ask them:
Why do people join such groups?
Do the leaders of cults wield special psychological powers over the members?
If, by some chance, you found yourself in a meeting of a cult-like group, what would you do?
3. Do people's comments about the Milgram experiment and cults reveal the fundamental attribution error? Do they blame the individuals for their actions and underestimate the power of the group?
Activity 8-2: Who has the power in the group?
Objectively examine the power structures of a group to which you belong. This group can be one that meets regularly in a work or social setting, a subgroup of the students within a class, or even an entire class.
1. Describe the group briefly: its composition, structure, dynamics, and tasks. Who is influential in the group, and who is not?
2. Is power based on experience, age, position, and so on? Is power fairly distributed? Are some people who should be influential slighted by the group?
3. Trace the power in the group back to French and Raven's bases of power: coercive, reward, referent, legitimate, expert, and informational.
4. How do you typically influence other people in this group? Do you prefer to use rational methods? Irrational ones? Do you rely on some methods more than others? Review the list in Table 8-2 and identify your favorites and least favorites.
Activity 9-1: How do you manage conflict in groups?
Think of a time when you experienced a group in conflict: when the actions or beliefs of one or more members of the group were unacceptable to and resisted by one or more of the other group members. The conflict need not have been intense or long-term, but it should have involved some
type of disagreement among the members.
1. What started the disagreement? Was the conflict rooted in personal conflict, substantive conflict, procedural conflict, competition, or the group's inability to handle a social dilemma?
2. Did the conflict escalate? Did you notice any of these conflict-intensifiers:
commitment to positions instead of concern for issues
misperceptions about the nature of the conflict
the use of contentious, too-strong tactics by members
negative reciprocity (paybacks)
the formation of opposing coalitions
strong emotions, such as anger
3. How did you respond in the situation? Which style of conflict resolution did you adopt?
4. What happened to the group? How was the conflict resolved? How did the experience change the group?
Activity 9-2: What are the causes of everyday conflict?
Because few groups can avoid conflict altogether, we are frequently offered opportunities to observe the causes and consequences of conflict first-hand. Search out a group experiencing conflict and carrying out one of these activities:
1. Conflicts erupt frequently in corporate settings, and are often rooted in personal dislikes and antipathies. Interview several members of the same company or organization, and ask them to talk about who they don't get along with and why. Is the conflict rooted in personality, substantive differences, or competition over resources?
2. If you belong to a group that discusses issues regularly, deliberately provoke a conflict in a group by disagreeing with other members. Plan your disagreement carefully and remain respectful of other people's positions. Watch, however, to see how the group responds and how you respond to the group. Be sure to take note of any conflict-intensifying reactions, such as commitment, misperceptions, and anger.
3. Watch individuals playing a competitive game, such as tennis, a board game, backgammon, or chess. Observe the way the competitors strive to overcome their opponent, but how they also try to minimize the harmful effects of competition to keep the situation friendly. Cautiously interfere with their interaction by asking the winner if he or she feels good about "crushing" his or her opponent.
4. Observe a group experiencing conflict. Try to follow the arguments offered by group members, and see if they use contentious influence tactics to overcome others. Watch for displays of anger, insulting remarks, threats, criticisms, nonverbal rejection, and the like. Or use a chart, like the one in Figure 2-6, to track the discussion. Each time a member speaks, classify the remark as positive or negative.
Activity 10-1: What Types of Tasks Are Assigned to Groups?
Several different problems are to be completed by your group. Please read the directions to each problem carefully before starting, and ask questions if you are uncertain as to how to proceed. Complete item #1 before you join the groups.
1. Without consulting with any one, write down your answer to the following questions:
a. What is the distance, in miles, between Paris, France, and Mexico City, Mexico? ________________________
b. What is the exact population of the earth? _________________________
2. When you join your group have members introduce themselves to the group by stating their full name, their birthplace, and their most cherished possession.
Time the introductions started: _______ Time the introductions ended: _________
3. What is the next letter in the following sequence? O T T F F S S
a. I b. E c. D d. R e. L
4. How many cigars can a hobo make from 25 cigar butts if he needs five butts to make one cigar?
a. 4 b. 5 c. 6 d. 7 e. 10
5. On one side of a river are three wives and three husbands. All of the men but none of the women can row. Get them all across the river by means of a boat carrying no more than three at one time. No man will allow his wife to be in the presence of another man unless he is also there.
6. Compute a group decision for the questions in #1 by averaging together everyone's judgments.
Distance: Individual Estimates: _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______
Average (group) estimate of distance: ________________ miles.
Population: Individual Estimates: _______ ______ _______ _______ _______ _______
Average (group) estimate of population: ___________________ people.
7. Have one member of the group record as many uses as your group can think of for old tires. Please indicate, in minutes, the time you started and ended this task. Started task: _________ Completed task: _________
8. Rank order the following animals in terms of how many hours, out of 24, the average animal sleeps. Give the longest sleeper a (1) and the shortest sleeper an (8).
___ Bat ___ Elephant
___ Dolphin ___ Human
___ Sheep ___ Cat
___ Chimp ___ Mole
Analysis of Responses
Use Steiner's taxonomy of tasks to identify each task your group completed, and explain how your group performed the task.
1. Which task was additive? How well did your group perform on this task? Were any of the variables that increased social loafing, such as free-riding, social matching, and blocking operating in your group?
2. Which task was compensatory? Was your group's score more accurate than your personal score? Would you recommend using groups to solve compensatory problems?
3. Which tasks were disjunctive? Describe, very briefly, the processes used by your group to solve the disjunctive tasks.
4. Which task was conjunctive? How rapidly did your group perform this task? Do your group finish before or after other groups?
5. Which task was discretionary? How did your group complete this task? Was this method successful? Were there any drawbacks to the method chosen by your group?
Activity 10-2: Brainstorming
Paul B. Paulus and Vicky L. Putman (1996) offer a number of suggestions for carrying out a brainstorming session. They recommend various methods, including traditional group brainstorming and an adaptation they call "brainwriting."
1. Form 5-person groups and review the instructions for brainstorming found in the text. Remember that criticism is not appropriate, and that quantity of ideas is crucial. Radical ideas are welcome, and group members should try to extending other people's suggestions.
2. Select one member of your group to act as the recorder of ideas. Recorders must not add any of their own ideas to the lists groups generate; they only write down others' ideas, and they should write down everything verbatim.
3. Work for 15 minutes on the Tourist Problem:
"Each year a great many Americans go to Europe to visit. Now suppose that Americans want to entice Europeans to come to America. What steps would you suggest to get more Europeans to visit America?"
4. When the time allotted has expired, review the list and eliminate any redundant items.
1. Form 4-person groups and review the rules for brainstorming, as noted in #1 above.
2. Instead of stating ideas aloud, one member of the group will begin by writing an idea on a sheet of paper. He or she then passes the paper on to the next member, who adds an idea. If a group member is slow in generating a new idea, the next group member can start a new sheet, which he or she can pass on to the next member.
3. Carry out steps #3 and #4 as in the traditional brainstorming groups.
1. How many ideas do you think you, as an individual, generated while brainstorming?
2. In general, do you believe you would produce more ideas by alone or by brainstorming in a group?
3. In general, do you believe you would produce more creative ideas by alone or by brainstorming in a group?
4. Evaluate the process your group used to generate its ideas.
a. Did the production of ideas change over time?
b. Did some individuals in the group produce more than others?
c. Did your group follow the rules of brainstorming?
5. Did any of the following coordination and motivational factors influence your group's performance?
a. Social loafing
b. Evaluation apprehension
d. Social matching
Activity 11-1: Making Decisions In Groups
The following questions measure your ideas concerning other people and events. Please answer all of the items, even if you must guess. Then, join with others in a group and discuss the issues a group. Reach a unanimous opinion on each.
1. A panel of psychologists has interviewed and administered personality tests to 30 engineers and 70 lawyers, all successful in their respective fields. The psychologists wrote descriptions of the 30 engineers and 70 lawyers were written. The one that follows was chosen at random from the 100 available descriptions.
Jack is a 45-year-old man. He is married and has four children. He is generally conservative, careful, and ambitious. He shows little interest in political and social issues and spends much of his free time on his many hobbies which include home carpentry, sailing, and math puzzles.
The chances that Jack is an engineer are
a. less than 2 out of 10
b. between 2 and 4 chances out of 10
c. 50/50: 4 to 6 chances out of 10
d. between 6 and 8 chances out of 10
e. greater than 8 chances out of 10
2. A roulette wheel can indicate either black (B) or red (R). After the following sequence, B R B B B B, the next outcome will probably be:
c. Both are equally likely.
3. Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social injustice, and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations. Please check off the most likely alternative:
a. Linda is a bank teller.
b. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.
4. How likely is it that a person in the U.S. will die from the following causes? Please rank them from most prevalent to least prevalent (with 1 being the most prevalent).
____ Poisoning by vitamins
____ Fireworks accidents
____ Venomous bite or sting
____ Pregnancy/birth complications
____ Infectious hepatitis
____ Breast cancer
____ Auto accidents
____ Lung cancer
____ Stomach cancer
____ All accidents
____ Cancer (all types)
____ Heart disease
1. Compare your individual answers to your group's answers. Did you perform better than your group?
2. What methods did your group use to solve the problems?
Activity 11-2: Observe a Group Decision
Find and observe a group that must make a decision: a televised city council meeting, a public committee meeting discussing some issue facing the community, a business group discussing a problem or strategy, a charitable board or foundation in its monthly meeting, or a university committee are all possibilities. Take notes on the group, and then answer the following questions:
1. What issue or issues did the group members examine during the meeting? Did the group preface its discussion with an analysis of the procedures it would use to reach its decision?
2. Did the group use any methods to structure it's discussion, such as an agenda, rules of order, a chairperson or leader, voting procedures, or the like?
3. What procedures did the group use to reach its decision? Did it vote? Discuss matters to consensus?
4. Did the group become polarized as it discussed the problem. In other words, did the group rally rapidly behind a solution once several of the group members expressed their views publicly?
5. Were any of the symptoms of groupthink present in the group?
6. Were any of the causes of groupthink identified by Janis present in the group (e.g., cohesiveness, time pressure, stronger leader, etc.?). Could these factors have interfered with the group's decision making capabilities.
7. In your opinion, was this group effective?
Activity 12-1: Leadership Interviews
People have strong opinions and assumptions about leadership, which are not always consistent with findings generated by theories and researchers. Explore these intuitive leadership theories by locating 2 respondents (one man, one woman) and ask them for a few minutes of their time. Roommates, friends, attachment figures are perfectly appropriate interviewees. Ask them the following questions, and any others you think are important to add. Record their answers in writing.
1. Can you name 2 or 3 people who you feel were or are great leaders?
2. Is leadership an inborn talent, or a learned skill?
3. Are leaders powerful people who can impose their will on others?
4. Do people like to work in groups that have leaders or groups that are leaderless?
5. Who makes a better leader: A woman or a man?
6. Have you ever been in a group where the leader failed to carry out his or her duties properly?
7. Have you ever been in a group led by a skilled leader?
8. If you were appointed the leader of a group--such as a jury or a group of employees in a place of business--what would be your most important duties?
Activity 12-2: What Is Your Leadership Style?
Most leadership theories argue that people consistently use a particular set of methods and techniques whenever they find themselves in charge of a group. Different theorists describe these leadership styles differently, but most highlight two key aspects: focus on the task and focus on the relationships among the members.
1. Complete Fred Fiedler's (1978) Least Preferred Co-worker Scale to assess your own leadership style. Think of a person with whom you can work least well. He or she may be someone you work with now or someone you knew in the past. This coworker does not have to be the person you like least but should be the person with whom you had the most difficulty in getting a job done. Describe this person by circling one of the numbers between each pair of adjectives:
Pleasant :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Unpleasant
Friendly :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Unfriendly
Rejecting :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Accepting
Tense :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Relaxed
Distant :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Close
Cold :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Warm
Supportive :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Hostile
Boring :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Interesting
Quarrelsome :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Harmonious
Gloomy :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Cheerful
Open :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Guarded
Backbiting :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Loyal
Untrustworthy :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Trustworthy
Considerate :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Inconsiderate
Nasty :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Nice
Agreeable :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Disagreeable
Insincere :.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.: Sincere
Kind :.8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.: Unkind
2. Add up the 18 numbers you circled to get a total between 18 and 144. According to Fiedler, if you scored 56 or less you have a task-oriented style of leadership. A score of 63 or higher indicates a relationship-oriented style of leadership. If you scored between 56 and 63 you can not be classified into either category.
3. Given your responses to the questionnaire, are you relationship- or task-oriented? Do the results of the LPC match your own intuitions about what type of leader you are?
4. According to Fiedler, what type of group would be the "best" type of group for you to lead? Which would be the "worst"?
5. Think about the last time you acted as a leader in a group. Describe the nature of the interaction as the group worked on the task. What was the valence of the three situational factors specified by Fiedler? Does his theory explain your relationship to the group?
6. How might you consider changing your leadership style or the situation to be more effective?
Activity 13-1: Experiencing Intergroup Conflict
Think of a time when you experienced intergroup conflict: when you belonged to a group that had a rival group. It may be a time in your past, but more likely you can consider one of your current groups, for who does not belong to a group that sometimes opposes another group? The group may also be a categorical one, where membership is based on similarity of members in terms of some demographic quality (e.g., race, ethnicity) or a dynamic group in which members interact with one another on a regular basis (Wilder & Simon, 1998).
1. Describe, briefly, the groups. What are the structural characteristics of the two groups (size, organization, goals) and the overall values of the group?
2. What are members of the two groups like, as individuals and as group members?
3. What caused conflict between the groups? Can the conflict be traced back to a precipitating event or issue?
4. Do the members of the two groups categorize each other? That is, do they display such tendencies as the ingroup-outgroup bias, stereotyping, and double-standards?
5. How did you personally respond in the situation?
6. Was the conflict resolved? Can you think of any better way you could have handled the situation?
Activity 13-2: Intergroup Relations in the News
Conflict between groups is such a pervasive aspect of our daily lives that we sometimes fail to notice it. Refocus your attention on groups, instead of the individuals in the groups, by reviewing the articles published in the local newspaper. Review each page of the local newspaper looking for descriptions of groups and evidence of conflict between those groups.
1. International news: What groups and nationalities are in the news? Are these groups described in positive or pejorative ways?
2. Local news: Are some of the issues facing your region of the country intergroup conflicts?
3. Letters to the editor: Do the editorials and letters to the editor describe grievances and complaints about a particular group? What groups do the writers belong to and what groups are they criticizing? Do their complaints reflect any of the perceptual biases listed in the summary, such as the outgroup homogeneity bias, the ingroup differentiation bias, and so on?
4. Sports and leisure: How are the sections dealing with sports, recreation, and leisure influenced by groups?
5. Advertisements: Don't overlook the advertisements, which are often designed to appeal to subgroups of the overall population. Do they reveal negative stereotypes about the groups depicted?
Activity 14-1: Group Synomorphy
The concept of synomorphy assumes that the shape and design of the places where group members interact inevitably shape their dynamics: for good and for worse. Study synomorphy by locating a complex behavior setting occupied by people. You might want to observe a crowded place, such as a high-density classroom, a fast- food restaurant, or an airport terminal. You could also consider a cafeteria serving area, the check-out desk in the library, the entrance to a high-use building, or a busy street corner. Just be certain that the place you observe is one that involves relatively complex interactions between the individuals and the setting they occupy.
1. Describe, in detail, the place that you are observing. Give its general characteristics, including dimensions.
2. Is the space available appropriate given the number of people present and their actions? Is overcrowding a problem? Is understaffing a problem?
3. Consider the way people enter into and move in the space. For example, are the doorways and halls sufficient to handle the flow of traffic? Is the area easy to reach from an outside location? Are the stairs or aisles conveniently located and adequate? Is the space barrier-free?
4. Describe how the people in the space react to it. Did they seem to like it or dislike it? Did it seem to be stressful for them? Did it influence the nature of their interactions?
5. Critique the space, concentrating on synomorphy: Does the form fit function? Does the space fit the tasks to be done? Is it too noisy, crowded, noisy, ugly?
Activity 14-2: Territoriality
Members of groups often develop a proprietary orientation toward specific areas of the group's space; for example, family members have their own rooms, faculty have their offices, and students in classes often sit at the same desk week after week. Study the territories of a professor at a university or a colleague where you work by first getting consent of the occupant. Then, spend about 15 minutes in the individuals' territory, taking notes and sketching its layout. Consider the following aspects of the space:
1. Who's territory did you observe? Give a thumbnail sketch of the individual's personality, focusing on introversion, achievement orientation, friendliness, emotionality, and intellectual prowess. What is the status of the occupant?
2. How large is the space? What is the actual measurement of the room? Does it seem large enough, or small and cluttered? What is your subjective appraisal of the size?
3. Where is the office located? Is it hidden away in an obscure part of the building, or in a high-traffic area? What other rooms/offices are located nearby?
4. What is the overall quality of the space? Is it clean, freshly painted, in need of repair, modern, etc.?
5. Diagram the way the furniture is arranged, paying attention to desk, chairs, windows, and doorway.
6. What sort of markings are in the office or near the office? Are grades posted nearby, is the room marked with a name plate?
7. What types of territorial displays are present in the office itself (see Table 14-4)?
Entertainment or equipment (bicycles, skis, radios, tennis rackets)
Personal relations (pictures of friends, letters, drawings)
Values (religious or political posters, bumper stickers)
Abstract (prints, art, statues)
Reference items (schedules, syllabi, calendars)
Music/theater (posters of rock groups, ballet troupes)
Sports (pictures of athletes, magazines)
Idiosyncratic (crafts, wall hangings, plants)
8. Given your observations, would you consider the space you observed to be a territory?
Activity 15-1: Observing Crowds
Locate and observe a crowd for at least 15 minutes. Do not watch an organized crowd, but instead find one that has formed spontaneously in a public place: people in a mall, watching an unscheduled event (such as a street mime), or loitering in a park are all possibilities. If you have no luck finding a crowd, then study an audience instead (so long as it is not a classroom audience).
1. Describe the general characteristics of the crowd. Give an estimate of its size, dimensions, movement, and life span, and indicate if subgroups exist within the overall crowd.
2. Search for evidence of a structure within the crowd. Try to identify individuals at the center of the crowd or the general focus of attention of the crowd as a unit.
3. What are the members of the crowding doing? Are they walking, sitting, speaking, applauding, and so on? Estimate the proportion of crowd members who are acting similarly.
4. Explain the dynamics of the crowd by considering these basic questions:
a. Are the individuals in the crowding acting in unusual or unexpected ways?
b. What is the emotional climate of the crowd?
c. In what ways are the members of the crowd similar to each?
d. Are the members of the group conforming to norms that traditionally apply in this setting, or are they acting counternormatively?
e. Does the crowd oppose some other group or organization?
5. Which theory of crowds offers the most insight into the crowd you observed? Why?
Activity 15-2: Experiencing Collective Behavior
Recall a time, within the last 6 months, when you were part of a large crowd or collective. Have you, for example, recently attended a sporting event, a concert, or a demonstration? A large gathering of a religious group or a street festival? Watched a parade or attended a political rally? (If you haven't been part of large collective recently, then interview someone who has.)
1. How large was the group, and what were the circumstances that led to your belonging to the group?
2. What kinds of actions did the group members perform? What did you do in the group?
3. How did you feel during the group experience: happy, sad, guilty, joyful, angry, upset, excited?
4. Did you feel self-conscious? Did you feel as though you were being singled out for observation, or did you feel as though were relatively unidentifiable?
5. Are memories of the event clear? Are you unable to remember with certainty what happened at some points during the event?
6. Did you act in ways that are consistent or inconsistent with how you normally act?
Activity 16-1: Self-Disclosure in Groups
Practice disclosing information about yourself with other members of the class, or with friends or loved ones.
1. Confidentiality. Before the group disclosure session group members should first agree that what is said should not be repeated outside the group.
2. Orientation. Begin self-disclosing information gradually, focusing on relatively factual information about yourself. Everyone in the group should mention something about themselves, answering such questions as:
Where is your birthplace?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
What is your occupation or major in college?
3. Attitudes and Interests. Group members, once they have disclosed some basic information about themselves, should discuss more personal topics, including:
What are your views on such topics as politics, government, or religion?
What are your hobbies and preferred pastimes?
What are your favorite foods or preferences in music?
4. Personal Strengths and Weaknesses. If members become more comfortable self-disclosing personal information, the group can move beyond attitudes and interests to more confidential topics, including:
What do you most enjoy about school (or work)?
What are your shortcomings that prevent you from being as successful as you would like to be?
How much money do you make?
What aspects of your personality do you dislike?
Are you satisfied with your ability to make friends and maintain relationships?
5. Intimate Disclosures. If all the members of the group are comfortable discussing intimate personal information, members may want to turn to such questions as:
What things have you done in the past that you are ashamed of?
How satisfying is your sex life?
Has anyone hurt your feelings deeply?
After the exercise spend time reviewing the self-disclosure process. Did the group move from less intimate to more intimate topics as it practiced self-disclosure? Did the group become more cohesive as the more members self-disclosed? How did you feel during and after the exercise?
Activity 16-2: Visit a Change-Promoting Group
Visit a support group or an anti-addiction meeting and note its dynamics. A wide variety of such groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and CoDependents Anonymous hold public meetings regularly. Most groups have no objection to people watching, so long as they do not violate the group's norms regarding anonymity and turn taking. You should take notes after the meeting, but not during it.
1. Arrive a few minutes early and watch as people come to the meeting. What is the composition of the group, in terms of number of people, ages, sex, ethnicity, and so on?
2. Describe the begin of the group's meeting. Does it recite a prayer, state its goals, and so on?
3. Does the group provide members with advice and information on how to deal with their problems?
4. Describe how the group provides motivational and emotional support to its members. Do group members encourage each other, and do some members provide positive examples?
5. From your observation, does the group take advantage of any of the curative factors identified in Table 16-4?
6. Give your overall analysis of the group's effectiveness.