Psychology Campus
Forensic & Criminal


Group Behaviour & Conflict

     Any organization that is larger than one person is a group, and anywhere where there is more than one person there is bound to be different ideas, behaviours and interests, which can create conflict. Groups are defined as people that see themselves as a unit. Groups provide rewards to the members and anything affecting one member affects the entire groups. A common goal is shared amongst the members. Group effectiveness is impacted by certain factors:

* Group cohesiveness (how well the members all get along)
* Interdependence (how much each member relies on their other members to reach their goal)
* Composition (what type of people and how the group is made up)
* Size
* Context and resources (what situation is the group in and what resources do they have available to them to help them to reach their goal)
* Members abilities
* Norms (the expected behaviours and attitudes of group members)

Potential Problems:
There are certain problems that can arise from a group type structure:

Polarization: This occurs when the attitudes of a group become extreme - especially towards either risky or conservative positions (i.e., racial ideas etc.)
Social Loafing: This is the absence of individual effort amongst the groups efforts, when a person is not contributing their fair share to the group, thinking that others will pick up their slack.
Groupthink: This occurs when a group sacrifices critical thinking in order to only have agreement on everything.

With any group, conflict is bound to occur (unless Groupthink has occurred). Conflict is the opposition of persons or forces, and this opposition gives rise to tension amongst the group members. Conflict is a natural state of affairs - it is bound to happen and in some places it may even be beneficial - in certain amounts and certain types. People deal with conflict differently. Competitive handling styles are when a person puts there concerns first and only wants to win. Accommodative handling occurs when someone will give in, in order to satisfy others. Sharing handling occurs when there is a 50/50 compromise. Collaborative handling is when people try to satisfy both sides. Finally, avoidant handling is when someone withdraws in order to avoid the conflict.

     There are some causes for conflict. Conflict can arise when there is competition for resources, when people are dependent upon others in order to get a task finished, when there is a misunderstanding or ambiguity about something, when there are communication barriers that prevent full communication and when personalities clash.

     Depending on what type of conflict it is, conflict can be good or bad. Functional conflict is conflict that supports the goals of the group and improves its performance. Dysfunctional conflict is that which hinders group performance.

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