Understanding Group Behavior: Small Group Processes and Interpersonal Relations - Vol. 2

Understanding Group Behavior: Small Group Processes and Interpersonal Relations - Vol. 2

Understanding Group Behavior: Small Group Processes and Interpersonal Relations - Vol. 2

Understanding Group Behavior: Small Group Processes and Interpersonal Relations - Vol. 2

Synopsis

These books grew out of the perception that a number of important conceptual and theoretical advances in research on small group behavior had developed in recent years, but were scattered in rather fragmentary fashion across a diverse literature. Thus, it seemed useful to encourage the formulation of summary accounts. A conference was held in Hamburg with the aim of not only encouraging such developments, but also encouraging the integration of theoretical approaches where possible. These two volumes are the result.

Current research on small groups falls roughly into two moderately broad categories, and this classification is reflected in the two books. Volume I addresses theoretical problems associated with the consensual action of task-oriented small groups, whereas Volume II focuses on interpersonal relations and social processes within such groups. The two volumes differ somewhat in that the conceptual work of Volume I tends to address rather strictly defined problems of consensual action, some approaches tending to the axiomatic, whereas the conceptual work described in Volume II is generally less formal and rather general in focus. However, both volumes represent current conceptual work in small group research and can claim to have achieved the original purpose of up-to-date conceptual summaries of progress on new theoretical work.

Excerpt

The project that was to become the two volumes, Understanding Group Behavior, began about 15 years ago with a book by one of us (Witte, 1979) on behavior in group situations. This book took the rather idealistic position that researchers studying small groups should emphasize empirical work because there already was an abundant literature, documenting many phenomena and "effects": The conformity effect; Ringelmann effect; obedience effect; minimal group paradigm effect; social inhibition/facilitation effect; bystander effect; and many more. What was lacking was sufficient theory and conceptual work that would improve our understanding of group behavior. Subsequently, empirical research continued to outpace theoretical work, albeit perhaps with some amelioration of the unfavorable empirical/theoretical ratio. This continuation motivated a proposal (Witte, 1991) to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFg) for an international conference on theoretical and conceptual issues in small group research. Upon the funding of this proposal, the Hamburg conference was arranged for November 1992. The general idea was to bring together from all over the world those scholars who were emphasizing theory construction and conceptual problems in small group behavior. With an accent on synthesizing approaches and ideas, subsequent discussions and exchanges resulted in the chapters that form these two volumes. In short, these volumes constitute a theoretical platform for the explanation and prediction of group behavior--and to some extent address applied problems as well.

The special emphasis of Volume 2 is on the theoretical basis of interpersonal processes, and their consequences, within and between groups, and less on . . .

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