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Group dynamics

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Group dynamics is the study of groups, and also a general term for group processes. In psychology and sociology, a group is two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships (Forsyth, 2006). Because they interact and influence each other, groups develop a number of dynamic processes that separate them from a random collection of individuals. These processes include norms, roles, relations, development, need to belong, social influence, and effects on behavior. The field of group dynamics is primarily concerned with small group behavior.

Key theorists

Kurt Lewin (1943, 1948, 1951) is commonly identified as the founder of the movement to study groups scientifically. He coined the term group dynamics to describe the way groups and individuals act and react to changing circumstances.

William Schutz (1958, 1966) looked at interpersonal relations from the perspective of three dimensions: inclusion, control, and affection. This became the basis for a theory of group behavior that see groups as resolving issues in each of these stages in order to be able to develop to the next stage. Conversely, a group may also devolve to an earlier stage if unable to resolve outstanding issues in a particular stage.

Wilfred Bion (1961) studied group dynamics from a psychoanalytic perspective. Many of his findings were reported in his published books, especially Experiences in Groups. The Tavistock Institute has further developed and applied the theory and practices developed by Bion.

Bruce Tuckman (1965) proposed the 4-stage model called Tuckman's Stages for a group. Tuckman's model states that the ideal group decision making process should occur in four stages:

  • Forming (pretending to get on or get along with others);
  • Storming (letting down the politeness barrier and trying to get down to the issues even if tempers flare up );
  • Norming (getting used to each other and developing trust and productivity);
  • Performing (working in a group to a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis).

Tuckman later added a fifth stage for the dissolution of a group called adjourning. (Adjourning may also be referred to as mourning, i.e. mourning the adjournment of the group). It should be noted that this model refers to the overall pattern of the group, but of course individuals within a group work in different ways. If distrust persists, a group may never even get to the norming stage.

Tuckman's stages of group development are similar to those developed by M. Scott Peck for larger-scale groups.[1] Peck describes the stages of a community as:

  • Pseudo-community
  • Chaos
  • Emptiness
  • True Community

Communities may be distinguished from other types of groups, in Peck's view, by the need for members to eliminate barriers to communication in order to be able to form true community. Examples of common barriers are: expectations and preconceptions; prejudices; ideology, theology and solutions; the need to heal, convert, fix or solve and the need to control. A community is born when its members reach a stage of "emptiness" or peace.


Group dynamics form a basis for group therapy.

Politicians and salesmen may make use their knowledge of the principles of group dynamics for the public benefit. Increasingly, group dynamics are becoming of particular interest because of online, social interaction made possible by the internet.


See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts


  • Bion, W. R. 1961. Experiences in Groups: And Other Papers. Tavistock. Reprinted, 1989 Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04020-5
  • Forsyth, D.R. 2006. Group Dynamics, 4TH Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 0-534-36822-0 .
  • Homans, G. C. 1974. Social Behavior: Its Elementary Forms, Rev. Ed. New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-581417-6
  • Peck, M.S. 1987. The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84858-9
  • Schutz, W. 1958. FIRO: A Three-Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.


  • Donelson R. Forsyth (Ed]).(2000). 100 Years of Groups Research. Group Dynamics:Theory research, and Practice.Volume 4, #1, March 2000. Special issue
  • Tuckman, B. 1965. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological bulletin, 63, 384-399.

Additional material



External links

cs:Skupinová dynamika
fr:Dynamique de groupe
sr:Групна динамика
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