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Revision Notes (Part - 1) - Social Influence and Group Processes - Notes | Study Psychology Class 12 - Humanities/Arts

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Facts That Matter

Nature and Formation Of Groups

Group: Organised system of two or more people who interact and are interdependent, have common motives, have a set of role relationships among members and have norms that regulate the behaviour of its members.


  1. Collection of people with common goals and motives.
  2.  Two or more people: perceive themselves as belonging to the group—each group is unique.
  3.  Members are interdependent.
  4.  Members interact with each other directly or indirectly.
  5. Members satisfy needs through joint association—influence each other.
  6. Set of norms and roles—specific functions for each member, adhere to norms on how one must behave, expected behaviour, etc.


We are simultaneously members of different groups; different groups satisfy different needs but could create pressures due to competing demands and expectations.

1. Security: Groups reduce insecurity

  • being with people—sense of comfort/protection.
  • people feel stronger—less vulnerable to threats.

2. Status: Recognised group gives feeling of power and importance.

3. Self-esteem: Feeling of self-worth and positive social identity.

  • member of prestigious group enhances* self-concept.

4. Goal Achievement: Group helps to attain some goals which can’t be attained alone (power in the majority).

5. Provides Knowledge and Information: Broadens views, helps supplement information.

6. Satisfaction of Psychological and Social Needs: Like sense of belongingness—giving and receiving attention, love and power.

Group Formation:

Some form of contact and interaction between people is needed.

  1.  Proximity: Closeness and repeated interactions with the same people (get to know their interests, attitudes and background).
  2.  Similarity: People prefer consistency—consistent relationship (reinforces and validates opinions and values; feel we’re right).
  3. Common Motives and Goals: Groups facilitate goal attainment.

Stages of group formation (Tuck man):

  1. Forming: Member’s first meet—there is uncertainty about group and goal and how it will be achieved. they try to get to know each other—there is excitement and apprehension.
  2. Storming: Intra-group conflict—about how the goal is to be achieved, who’s the leader and who will perform what task (hierarchy of leadership and how to achieve goal is developed.
  3. Norming: Develop norms related to group behaviour (development of a positive group identity).
  4. Performing: Structure of the group has evolved and is accepted (towards goal achievement); at this is the last stage of group development.
  5. Adjourning: Once the function is over the group may be disbanded.


— Groups do not always proceed in a systematic manner.
— Stages could even take place simultaneously.
— Groups can go back and forth between stages or skip a few stages.
Group Structure: Over time there are regularities in distribution of tasks, responsibilities assigned to members and status of members.


1. Roles: Socially defined expectation that individuals in given situations are expected to fulfil, i.e., typical behaviour that depicts a person in a given social context.

(i) Role Expectations: Behaviour expected of someone in a particular role.

2. Norms (unspoken rules): Expected standards of behaviour and beliefs established, agreed upon and enforced by group members.

3. Status: Relative social position given to group members by others.

(i) Ascribed (given due to one’s seniority) or achieved (because of expertise or hard work).
(ii) Members of a group—enjoy status, and want to be members of prestigious groups.
(iii) Within groups, different members have different prestige and status.

4. Cohesiveness: Togetherness, binding or mutual attraction among members

(i) More Cohesiveness: Members start thinking, feeling and acting as a social unit (no isolated individuals); there is an increased desire to remain in group (we feeling- sense of belongingness).
(iii) Extreme cohesiveness leads to group think and is negative.

Types of Groups:

Primary Group:

Pre-existing formation that are usually given to a person. People usually remain a part of it through their lifetime.
Includes face-to-face interaction and close physical proximity. Member share warm, emotional bonds.
Central to person’s functioning; major role in developing values and ideals.
Boundaries are less permeable—can’t choose membership, join or leave easily.
Example: Family, religion, caste.

Secondary Group:

Groups which individuals join by choice.
Relationships among members are more impersonal, indirect and less frequent.
These may or may not be short-lived.
It is easy to leave and join another group.
Example: Political party.

Formal Group:
Functions, based to be performed are explicitly stated.
Formation based on specific rules or laws and members have defined roles. Set of norms help establish order.
Example: Office, university.

Informal Group:
Roles of each member not so definite and specified. Close relationship among members exist.
Formation not based on rules and laws.
Example: peer group.

In group:
One’s own group—‘we’ (e.g., India).
Members in the group—similar, viewed favourably, have desired traits.

Out group:
Another group—‘they’ (e.g., Pakistan).
Member of out-group—viewed
differently, negatively in comparison to in group.

Influence of Group on Individual Behaviour:

1. Social Loafing: This is the reduction in individual effort when working on a collective task.

— Individual performing an activity with the others as part of a larger group.
— Individuals work less hard in a group than alone.
— Don’t know much effort each one is putting in.
— Presence of others leads to arousal; motivates individuals to enhance their performance (only when a person’s efforts are individually evaluated).

Causes of Social Loafing:

(a) Members feel less responsible for the overall task and thus exert less effort.
(b) Performance of the group isn’t compared with other groups.
(c) Motivation decreases as contributions are not individually evaluated.
(d) No/improper co-ordination between members.
(e) Belonging to the same group is not important for members (it is only aggregate of individuals).

Can be reduced by:

(a) Making effort of each person identifiable.
(b) Increasing pressure to work hard—make members committed, motivated.
(c) Increase apparent importance and value of task.
(d) Make them feel their Individual contribution is important.
(e) Strengthen group cohesiveness—increase motivation for successful group outcome.

2. Group Polarisation: Groups are likely to take more extreme decisions than individuals would take alone

  • strengthening of group’s initial position because of groups interaction.
  • dangerous repercussions—groups may take extreme position (very weak to very strong decisions).

Causes of group Polarization:

(a) In the company of like-minded people, you’re likely to hear newer arguments favouring your view-points.
(b) Bandwagon effect—when you find others sharing your view-point, you feel your view is validated by the public.
(c) When people have similar views as you, you’re likely to perceive them as in-group (start identifying with them, show conformity—views become strengthened).

Social Influences: Those processes whereby our attitudes and behaviours are influences by the real or imagined presence of other people.
Identification: Influence process based on agreement or identity seeking. Internalisation: Process based on information seeking.

1. Conformity:

— Most indirect form of social influence.
— Tendency to follow norms is natural and spontaneous (norms are unwritten informal rules: provide information about what is expected from people in a situation; allows the group of function smoothly).
— People feel uncomfortable if they’re ‘different’ (could lead to dislike/disapproval or some form of social punishment) (deviants/non-conformists).
— Following norms is the easiest way to avoid disapproval.
— Norms reflect the views and beliefs of the majority (feel majority is likely to be right). — Experiments on conformity by Sherif (Autokinetic effect) and Asch (Asch technique)
(condition determining the extent of conformity—degrees of conformity determined by situation-specific factors).

Determinants of Conformity:

(a) Size of Group: More conformity when group is small.
(b) Size of Minority: Larger the minority, lesser the conformity (more is the deviance).
(c) Nature of the Task: more conformity when there are objective questions.
(d) Public/Private Expression of Behaviour: More conformity in public and less conformity in private expression.
(e) Personality: Conforming personality—tendency to change behaviour according to what others do (others are independent, don’t look for norms to decide how to behave in a situation—highly intelligent people are confident).

Conformity occurs because of:

(a) Informational influence (that results from accepting evidence, not reality. Rational conformity- learn through observing other’s actions)
(b) Normative influence (based on desire to be accepted and admired—conform because deviation could lead to rejection/non-acceptance. Majority determines final decision but at times ifTniriority is firm and uncompromising it doubts on the majority’s minds).

2. Compliance: Extreme condition forcing the person to accept influence (of a significant other) and behave in a particular way in response to a request from another person/group even in the absence of a norm. Why do we comply—easier way out of the situation more polite.

Factors used to make others comply:

(i) ‘Foot in the Door’ Technique: Being by making small request that one can’t refuse move on to bigger ones-once you comply with the first request, feel uncomfortable refusing the second one.
(ii) ‘Deadline* Technique: A ‘last date’ is announced until an offer is available—make people hurry so they can’t miss the opportunity. More (the one actually required), usually granted.
(iii) ‘Door in the Face Technique: Being with a large request and when this is refused move onto making a smaller request (the one actually required), usually granted.

3. Obedience

— Response to a person in authority.
— Direct and explicit form of social influence (someone has requested and you comply).
— If disobeyed, one is likely to get punished from people in authority; thus, one to obey as people in authority have effective means for enforcing order.
— Milgram’s experiment: Even ordinary people are willing to harm innocent people if ordered by someone in authority.

Why do people obey (after knowing the effects)?

(a) Feel they are not responsible for their own action and that they are simply carrying out orders from an authority.
(b) Authority is powerful and possesses symbol of status, and thus difficult to resist.
(c) Authority increases commands from lesser to greater levels (initial obedience binds followers for commitment and once you obey small orders you start obeying bigger orders as you feel committed to the authority).
(d) Events move at such a fast speed that there is no time to think, one just obeys orders, e.g., riots

Co-operation and Competition:

When groups work together to achieve shared goals.
No individual rewards. Only group rewards exist.
Co-operative goals—each attains his/ her goal only if other members attain their.
There is respect for one another’s ideas and members are more friendly. There is more co-ordination.

The document Revision Notes (Part - 1) - Social Influence and Group Processes - Notes | Study Psychology Class 12 - Humanities/Arts is a part of the Humanities/Arts Course Psychology Class 12.
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