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Group Dynamic Research and Prompts


CC.11-12.SL.1  Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.      

CC.11-12.SL.1.b  Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

CC.11-12.SL.1.c  Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives. 

CC.11-12.SL.1.a  Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of  

     Group Dynamic:  Who has power over you?

     Almost all of our time is spent interacting in groups; we are educated in groups, we work in groups, we play in groups, and we are attracted to others and form groups. But even though we live our lives in groups, we often take them for granted. Group dynamics is the study of groups, and also a general term for group processes. A group is defined as two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships.  Individuals join groups because they satisfy a need for safety, identity, affiliation, give individuals a chance to test and share social realities, reduce anxieties and insecurities about being isolated and powerless, and provide a problem-solving mechanism for social and interpersonal relations.  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. 



     Norms are the rules of the group. They may be explicit (outwardly stated) or implicit (known only by observation).They tell the group members how to behave or how not to behave in different situations. Newcomers who do not follow these rules may be excluded from the group. Norms are positive in that they can bring order to chaos, but they can turn negative if they cause uncomfortable exclusion.   Examples of norms may include:

     How much socializing occurs at meetings

     How members dress at meetings.

     Whether group members go out together and when

     Whether meetings start on time or are always 15 minutes late 

     Rules about who can talk when and how much time they can use


     Roles are expected behavior for positions within the group.  They can be formal (President, Treasurer, Facilitator, Cheerleader, Focus Enforcer, Time Keeper, etc.) or informal and untitled. The most common roles include:


Leader's "right hand man":  enforces the orders and/or views of the leader

Cheerleader:  encourages and fosters the harmony in the group.  Often uses positive reinforcement to help the group to work together toward their goal

Comedian:  Harmonizer, mediates conflict and reconciliation with the use of humor

Gatekeeper:  Encourages all group members to participate.

Standard Setter:  Evaluates the quality of the group process.

Commentator:  records and comments on group process or dynamic

Followers:  serve as passive audience

Avoider:  remains isolated and apart from others

Dominator:  manipulates group, interrupts others

Recognition Seeker:  calls attention to self by boasting, bragging, or acting superior


Who are the high participators?            

Who are the low participators?            

What are the greeting behaviors?  Do they serve to bond the group?            

Who talks to whom?  Who initiates the talk?          

Early arrival and late departure phenomenon –do people want to spend time together?

Who keeps the ball rolling? And why?

How are the silent people treated? And how is their silence interpreted? 

Who is attracted to whom (This means more than sexual attraction.  It can mean having interests in common or shared desire to be friends or allies within the group) 


      As a group or team forms, it goes through certain predictable and observable stages, progressing from a loose collection of individuals to a cohesive group working together more or less effectively for a common cause. Each stage poses a challenge to group members and their respective leaders causing certain behaviors to appear. Mastering the behaviors that surface in one stage will allow the group or team to progress to the next stage.

  Need to Belong:

     Cohesiveness refers to all of the forces that cause individuals to remain in groups. High cohesiveness, such as strong liking and close match between individual needs and goals may help the group. It can interfere, however, if the group spends so much time in social interaction that they cannot get any work done. Generally, a sense of esprit de corps helps group performance. A newcomer may have more difficulty fitting in a group that has a very high cohesion level. As leader of the group, you can provide the extra help the newcomer may need in adjusting to the group as well as help established members welcome their newest member. 

  Effects on Behavior:

          Group Dynamic Class Activity:                                             

     Directions:  Even though we live our lives in groups, we often take them for granted. Consider their influence on you by enumerating the groups to which you belong, as well as those that influence you.

                                    Group influences in your life:

1. Make a list of all the groups you belong to now. List as many as possible; don't forget family, clubs, sport teams, classes, social groups, cliques of friends, work teams, and social categories that are meaningful to you (e.g., American).

2. Do any of the groups you belong to transform members into a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts? Do they have supervening qualities?

3. Which group has changed the most over time? Describe this change briefly?

4. Which group is highest in "entitativity" (others perceive it to be “pure” or essential in nature)

5. Which group has influenced you, as an individual, the most? Explain the group's influence on you briefly.

6. Identify five groups that you do not belong to, but that influence you in some way. Of these groups, which one influences you--your behaviors, your emotions, or your outcomes--the most?

                                                     Sense of Self:

1. Number the lines on a sheet of paper from 1 to 20. On each line, complete the statement "I am ..." with whatever aspect of yourself comes to mind. Answer as if you were talking to yourself, not to somebody else. Write the answers in the order they occur to you, and don't worry if they aren't logical or factual. Do not continue reading about this activity until after you finish making your list!

2. Read each statement and then classify it into one of two categories. Collective qualities are any descriptions that refer to the self in relationship to others. It includes roles ("I am a student,"), family relations ("I am a mother,"), ethnicity, race, gender, and origins (e.g., "I am an African American" or "I am from the States"), and religion. Individualistic qualities are qualities that apply to you personally, such as traits, attitudes, habits, and mood (e.g., I am intelligent," or "I like to play soccer").

3. Summarize your self-concept by computing the percentage of your self that is individualistic versus collectivistic.

            a. Is your self-concept more individualistic or collectivistic?

            b. Did you tend to list collective qualities earlier in the list than individualistic ones?

            c. Was it difficult to classify the self-descriptions as either individualistic or                                                 collectivistic?

            d. Which qualities are more central to your identity: the collective components or the individualistic components?

                                    What is group structure?

Take a moment and reflect on the structure of a group to which you belong. This group can be one that meets regularly in a work or social setting, or a subgroup of the students within a class. (You can even consider your family's structure.) Describe the group's structure in terms of roles, norms, and inter-member relations.

1. List the members of your group by first name.

2. Describe each person's behavior with 3 or more adjectives and a role label such as leader, follower, Mr. Friendly, deviate, joker, silent member, conformist, or brains.

3. List some of the norms that existed in your group. Are any of these norms relatively unique or unusual? Did anyone violate any norms, and need censuring by the group?

4. Draw a diagram of the authority relations in the group, placing the leader at the top, followed by those next in status, and so on.

5. Draw a sociogram of your group that reflects patterns of attraction. Use your best judgment to determine who likes and dislikes whom.

6. Graph the communication network in your group. How efficient is the organization? How can it be changed to be more effective?

                                    Are you a conformist?

If you meet regularly in a group, take a moment and reflect on its influence on you. Do you change your behavior when you are in this group? Has the group influenced you, in some way, even when you are no longer in the group?

1. Describe the group briefly: its composition, structure, dynamics, and tasks. How long have you belonged to the group, and what is your role in the group?

2. Is the group an influential one for you, personally? To answer this question, briefly describe your basic personality in terms of the these five qualities: introversion/extroversion (outgoing vs. reserved), agreeable (friendly vs. aloof), conscientious (responsible vs. uninvolved), stability (assured vs. nervous), and openness (open to ideas vs. conservative). Do your actions in the group reflect your personal qualities, or do you act in ways that are inconsistent with your personality in this group?

3. People differ in their tendency to conform in groups. Do you have any conformity-increasing qualities? Are you shy? Do you prefer to change your behavior to match the demands of situations in which you find yourself? Do you avoid attracting too much attention to yourself when you are in social settings? Are you generally uncertain about the validity of your opinions and conclusions? Are you more introverted than extroverted?

Further Links for Further Study:

Groups Dynamic Research and Theory

University of Kentucky Research

“History of Group Research”

“Group Dynamics”