Thursday, 7 May 2009

Groups and group membership

'A group is two or more individuals who
–share a set of norms,
–have role relationships,
–and experience interdependent behaviours.' (Hickmott 2008)

'There is an immense amount of pressure on group members to buy things that will meet with the group's approval.' (Solomon 2006)
This often means paying a price in the form of group rejection or embarrassment when one does not conform to others' conceptions of what is good or bad, 'in' or 'out'.
'As a member of a large society, people share certain cultural values or strongly held beliefs about the way the world should be structured. Other values are shared by subcultures, or smaller groups within the culture, such as ethnic groups or teens.' (Solomon 2006)
Certain groups of consumers buy certain brands. For example, ‘chav’s’ and Burberry. Brands know this and use it to create a ‘personality’. This is created by product advertising, packaging and branding. People choose the brand that is approved by the social group by which they belong, or the one to which they aspire.

A theorist, Mark Levine, discussed how when someone of a similar social group is in trouble, people are more inclined to help. I would like to think this untrue, but know this is not. Even last week, Sallie, Rosh and I went to Thorpe Park. Somehow I ended up with my car mounted on a log and a group of lads stopped to help. When they finished they said ‘oh well we both drive Hyundai’s so we have to stick together.’ Ok, so maybe they still would have helped me if we didn’t drive the same make of car but that verbal recognition of us belonging in a sort of 'group' is a genuine necessity for humans to survive. This is reinforced by Maslow subsequently. Levine (2008) conducted 'Four experiments to explore the interaction of group size, social categorization, and bystander behavior. In Study 1, increasing group size inhibited intervention in a street violence scenario when bystanders were strangers but encouraged intervention when bystanders were friends. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings to social category members.' (Levine 2008).

When gender identity was salient, group size ‘encouraged intervention when bystanders and victim shared social category membership. In addition, group size interacted with context-specific norms that both inhibit and encourage helping. Study 3 used physical co-presence and gender identities to examine these social category effects.’ Increasing group size of women produced greater helping of a female victim, but increasing group size of men did not. Additionally, increasing numbers of out-group bystanders resulted in less intervention from women but more intervention from men. Study 4 replicated these findings with a measure of real-life helping behavior. Taken together, the findings indicate that the bystander effect is not a generic consequence of increasing group size.’ (Levine 2008)

'When bystanders share group-level psychological relationships, group size can encourage as well as inhibit helping.' (Levine 2008)

Yes granted, this is a rather basic explanation of social groups and relationships but it is still relevant to elementary school students about socialising and groups

Interesting case study:

'Extant research suggests that targets' emotion expressions automatically evoke similar affect in perceivers. The authors hypothesized that the automatic impact of emotion expressions depends on group membership. In Experiments 1 and 2, an affective priming paradigm was used to measure immediate and preconscious affective responses to same-race or other-race emotion expressions. In Experiment 3, spontaneous vocal affect was measured as participants described the emotions of an ingroup or outgroup sports team fan. In these experiments, immediate and spontaneous affective responses depended on whether the emotional target was ingroup or outgroup. Positive responses to fear expressions and negative responses to joy expressions were observed in outgroup perceivers, relative to ingroup perceivers. In Experiments 4 and 5, discrete emotional responses were examined. In a lexical decision task (Experiment 4), facial expressions of joy elicited fear in outgroup perceivers, relative to ingroup perceivers. In contrast, facial expressions of fear elicited less fear in outgroup than in ingroup perceivers. In Experiment 5, felt dominance mediated emotional responses to ingroup and outgroup vocal emotion. These data support a signal-value model in which emotion expressions signal environmental conditions.' (Weisbuch 2008)

'Intergroup exchanges are sometimes characterized by heightened levels of the basic motivation to know one's social standing with others'. (Vorauer 2008)

Maslow discussed how important it is for a person to feel belonging. It comes after psychological (eating, drinking and shelter) and safety needs. This makes it a very important need of human beings, not a want. See below.

Being part of a group is not necessarily about belonging. It helps us gain a sense of achievement and sometimes even superciliousness. For example, in a comparative manner. This can be applied in terms of egotism, such as cars, houses and even grades. The initial reaction of all students is to ask each other what everybody achieved so as to know where they stand in comparison to their peers and equals. This can give a great sense of satisfaction if you know you have achieved a very high grade, comparatively.

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