Psychology Campus
Forensic & Criminal



     A group is a collection of individuals who interact with each other, often for a common purpose or activity. Why do people come together in groups? There are two basic functions of groups - to get work done and to handle relationships among the group members. The leaders of the group also serve two functions as well - to guide the group to achieve its goals and to help the groups function of mutual support and cohesion.

     Social facilitation is the term for the beneficial effect on performance that results from the perceived presence of others. For example, in a competitive race - the presence of opponents will cause the person to try even harder to succeed. Social inhibition is the detrimental effect on performance that results from the perceived presence of other people. There is a theory known as the distraction-conflict theory that holds that it is not the presence of another individual or apprehension that one may be being evaluated by others, but the distraction that is caused by having other people around.

     Social loafing is the term that is applied to the situation where when in a group, the individuals that make up the group reduce their effort the larger the group gets. This is due to the fact that others feel that they do not need to work as hard as others, they are going to do the work and have lack of co-ordination of efforts which will decrease the groups production.

     Group polarisation is the exaggeration of the initial views of members of a group, through group interaction. If members of a group on average initially tend towards taking risks, the group as a whole will tend to exaggerate this risk taking tendency. Group polarization occurs because of two factors. New information is on factor, as people initially believe that they have a point of view that they believe, but in a group, they hear new information and arguments supporting their points of view, that they have not thought of before. They thus become even stronger in their convictions. The second effect is movement toward the group norm. As people meet others who support their point of view, and as they receive social approval from them, they begin to move in the direction of the group norm.

     Conflict resolution occurs in any group of individuals where all opinions may not be the same. There are ways that people resolve these inter-group and inter-group conflicts. People have particular goals in resolving conflicts. They may have a co-operation orientation and be seeking to maximize both their outcomes and those of others, or they may have an individualistic orientation and are seeking to only maximize their own outcomes, they may have a competitive orientation and be seeking to maximize their own outcomes at the expense of others, or they may have altruistic orientation and be seeking only to maximize the outcomes of others.

     As well, people may have certain strategies that they use to resolve their conflicts. This may include physical force, economic force, seeking to defuse the conflict and mediation.

Related Links

Social Psychology
Social Judgment
Self Perception
False Consensus & Uniqueness
Self Esteem
Non-Verbal Communications