Group Influence Assignment
From the very first days of life the individual interacts with various groups. The person not only feels the group influence but gets the information about the outside world through this influence. With the growing complexity of the world and society, a group effect on the individual is increasing steadily. A group is not a homogeneous mass; there are people of different levels of development, with different knowledge and skills. According to Myers (2010) a group is two or more people who, for longer than a few moments, interact with and influence one another and perceive one another as us (p. 268). Communication within a group can have both positive and negative consequences. Sometimes great successes can be achieved when work is done by a group, and sometimes the results are exactly opposing and lead to a great failure. The group not only helps a person to survive and improve the professional skills, it changes the behavior of an individual. Turning the individual into the member of the group changes a person, often making him/her markedly different from what he/she was out of the group. The group influence is obvious when examined practically. This paper is to tell about an observation of a group discussion, notice the processes happening when discussing a subject of matter, and make conclusions on the group influence over an individual based on the observation.
The group to be discussed consists of students aged between 18 and 23, from different backgrounds. There are 9 people: 3 men and 6 women. Two women are African Americans; others are Americans. The meeting was held in a childrens home, in the assembly hall. The members of the group were sitting near the stage and on it, relatively close to each other. The purpose of the meeting was the organization of a holiday for children. The holiday was not associated with a calendar holiday or a holy day; it was supposed to entertain children. The group aimed to give them little presents and pay attention to them. This was a long-term group since there were many meetings and holidays organized for children by them, and this is the feature of a long term group (Arrow, 1997). All members of the group share one philosophy everyone, who needs help, should receive it. One of the team members said that children at childrens houses have no parental care, and the group is trying to give children at least part of attention that should be paid to every child.
The meeting was organized to discuss an item on the agenda, which contained several steps to be made in order to create a great and memorable holiday. It was necessary to decorate the hall, make a script of the whole holiday, prepare various prizes, create a small dramatic performance, and prepare background music. Taking into account the experience of the group, the purpose was relatively easy and supposed to take a little time. However, the usual meeting was complicated by the presence of an observer (me) and new member integration into the team.
There was no strong leader of the group; every member had his/her own role and duty; thus, the real purpose of the meeting was listening to the reports of members on their assignments. However, the new member was lost and did not know her role in the organization process (Zarnoth & Sniezek, 1997). In addition, my presence was influencing the group behavior. After the meeting, one of the members said that usually they have a calm conversation, lasting for about 50-60 minutes. This time the discussion was loud, with several arguments, and took about 2 hours. It can be supposed that the presence of an observer made the team members wonder how they are evaluated (Myer, 2010). Thus, people began to show they are the best in their assignments, every member told his duty was the most important one, and several people began to act like leaders causing the arguments.
The discussed group is the example of a successful brainstorming since the individual brainstorming over each duty was held (Myer, 2010). This group was usually acting as a single organism, but in my presence it changed its usual behavior. According to members, each of them has his own assignment that is consistent with overall conception of the event they are planning. The conception is usually chosen after on-line discussion of it. The group has the list of the topics they are choosing one by one, so the arguments on the topic of the event are absent. Thus, the work on the team is professionally organized; people have similar ideas and world view. The group influence was very noticeable when considering a new member of a team. She did not take part in the discussion since she had no assignment; her task was simply to observe and try to put her ideas for the holiday. Here, it can be said that the girl felt lost since such activity was not dominant for her. Thus, her activity was diminished due to the complexity of the task she was required to do (Myer, 2010).
Furthermore, taking into account the long-term character of the group, it can be pointed out that at this particular meeting the interaction was between the group and a new member, and the group and the observer. In the first case, the group was trying to make a new girl adhere to group norms, to impose their views on a person (Arrow, 1997). This person can be called deindividuated since the girl had her own ideas, but they were destructed under the influence of the group norm. In particular, she proposed her holiday topic, but, as it was said earlier, the topic was chosen from the list. In addition, the group demonstrated overconfidence in its judgments, norms and plans due to the appearance of the new member (Zarnoth & Sniezek, 1997). It can be said that the group overestimate their might and right (Myer, 2010, p. 292).
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In the second case, the group was trying to assure the observer (me) that their efforts to make the childrens life better are collective and they have the best plan and best ideas concerning this plan. It can be considered as the groupthink (Myer, 2010). In addition, by ensuring the uniqueness of the group, they were trying to prevent me from critiquing their groupthink. It can be also said that in this particular case, the groupthink hindered the group decisions since they tried to make a good impression on the observer taking into account that their actions were dominant. In addition, the observer was alone, and the group contained nine members (Myer, 2010).
In conclusion, the discussed group demonstrates all the characteristic features of the group, such as the number of members and the pattern of behavior. It should be pointed out that in the presence of an observer, the internal norms of the group and its behavior as a whole changed similarly to the behavior of the individual of the group. In addition, deindividuation was observed towards the new group member, which is also the typical feature of the group. In can be said that the group highly influences the individual and changes his/her behavior and habits. It is especially subjected to the long-term groups and their new members.