Group Cohesiveness Essay - 2455 Words

Before we begin a detailed analysis of specific cases, it is necessary for us to first familiarize ourselves with the definitions of group and group cohesion. The basic definition of a group is that it has to contain two or more persons and there must be interaction among members (Mills 2). The additional characteristics of a group, which also seem to be signs of high group cohesiveness, are sense of membership, shared goals, and shared norms within the group (Sherif M. 143-180). Group cohesion, as defined in the field of social psychology, refers to members’ attraction to the group (Hogg 30). It is often described as a psychological force that binds people together (Keyton, Springston). It is an outcome of the group development process (Tuckman). Based on the activities brochures for Notre Dame International Orientation, Frosh-O and the Lyons Hall Orientation, I classified the orientation events into five major categories: Spiritual Events, Communicative Events, Resources-Introduction Events, Task-Completion Events, and Groups-Comparison Events.

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The Resources-Introduction Events instilled a sense of goal isomorphism between the freshmen and the university. By quickly helping the new group members realize their possibilities of reaching their potentials and making them feel interconnected to the group, these events effectively increase the group cohesiveness.

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Dan (April) Feng is a student from China intending to major in political science and Spanish and to minor in theology. She plans to go to law school after graduation and wants to work to improve the current legal system of China by empowering citizens through changes in public policy. April’s research paper was inspired by her first experience attending a football game at Notre Dame. Shocked by the unusually strong group cohesion of Notre Dame students, April sought to explore the ways in which group cohesion is increased. Her essay analyzes a range of activities taking place during Freshmen Orientation on campus in an effort to discuss and analyze the origins and practical ramifications of group cohesion. April would like to give special thanks to Professor John Duffy, who has and continues to help her with utmost patience and who supports her writing without any reservations. She could not possibly have received such an honor without his tireless guidance.

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Communicative-Events provide time and places for interpersonal interactions and expand self-disclosure among new group members. By encouraging one-to-one communications, they help new members create deeper understanding of each other. By feeling more attached to each of the group members, people tend to appreciate their group identities more and have a more favorable opinion of their group. As a result, the general group cohesiveness is strengthened.

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However, we should also pay attention to the specific period of time when the self-disclosure strategy is used in group-formation process. It is not hard for one to notice that there were more Communicative-Events held at the beginning of the semester than at later time periods, as demonstrated by the study of Kahn and Rudestam on the relationship of liking and group cohesion in 1971. In the study report, they noticed a decline in group cohesiveness at later time periods. This finding indicates that there are certain time constraints to the self-disclosure technique. Kahn and Rudestam concluded that “disclosure might affect cohesion for a period of time, then other variables might assume more importance” (Hoffman 19).

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The resultant force acting on the group (cohesiveness) may be hypothesized as a function of the degree to which there is correspondence between the need structures of all the individual members and the need-satisfying potential in the group. Individual needs, which may be satisfied through group membership, are of many sorts. They may be associated with formal or informal group goals or activities, with the prestige position of the group, with affectional ties to other group members, with opportunities for free emotional expression without personal exposure, and with protection against external threat. (Libo 6)