Small Groups: An Introduction

Small Groups: An Introduction

Small Groups: An Introduction

Small Groups: An Introduction


This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the social-psychological literature on social interaction in small groups. Part I covers the influence of the physical situation, personalities, and social characteristics of the group members on the dynamics of the group. Part II covers the effect of the presence of others on pressures to conform experienced by group members. Part III includes chapters on roles, relationships, and leadership. Part IV reviews verbal and nonverbal communication, group decision making, and choice shift. Part V deals with cooperation, competition, and conflict resolution. Part VI discusses two types of external influence on the small group: the influence exerted by a larger group of which the smaller group is part, and the influence exerted by other groups with which the small group cooperates or competes.


The idea of studying the effects of the presence of other people may appear straightforward. Certainly the feeling that the presence of other people makes a difference to us is very familiar. There is, however, no single kind of feeling, nor is there a simple effect. What happens will depend on whether the other is friendly, neutral, or hostile--and on whether they are an audience or a coactor doing the same or a different task. The others may be part of a group--the major aspects of group interaction are addressed in later chapters. The present chapter considers, in terms of three research areas, what happens when another person is simply present.

First, there is social facilitation--the effects of performing with another person present, whether as audience or coactor. Here, the focus is on whether performance is enhanced or impaired.

Second, there is social inhibition--the suppression of behavior because of the presence of others. Both helping behavior and aggression will be discussed.

Third, there is affiliation--seeking the presence of others when faced with behavior under stress.


For many people, performing in front of other people is terrifying (Borden, 1980) and they may feel they would have done better if not observed. For others, the excitement of an audience may generate a sense of exhilaration and their performance is enhanced. This may not just vary among individuals. It may be that any one person will feel differently depending on the task (adding up numbers, playing a piano concerto, learning to drive . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.