Interaction Process Analysis: A Method for the Study of Small Groups

Interaction Process Analysis: A Method for the Study of Small Groups

Interaction Process Analysis: A Method for the Study of Small Groups

Interaction Process Analysis: A Method for the Study of Small Groups

Excerpt

Interaction Process Analysis is a term which has been adopted to designate a body of methods which have been developing over the last twenty years. These methods in various forms have been invented, borrowed, and reinvented by researchers in answer to a wide variety of different needs, but they all have in common some kind of first-hand observation of social interaction in small face-to-face groups.

Similarly, the term "small group" is suggested to provide a convenient way of referring to the kinds of groups which have been or presumably can be studied by this body of methods. Concretely, these groups are very diverse in composition, character, and purpose. Included in the referent are groups such as those formed for group discussion and group therapy, for counseling, planning, training programs, and experimental teaching procedures. Policy forming committees, boards and panels, diagnostic councils in clinical work, problem-solving groups in experimental social psychology and sociology, teams and work groups, family and household groups, children's play groups, adolescent gangs, adult cliques, social and recreational clubs, and small associations of a great many kinds fall within the classification, as do groups of two, such as interviewer and interviewee, therapist and patient, teacher and pupil, and professional specialist and client, to name only a few. Groups of these kinds, ranging in number of persons involved from two to something around twenty, then, may be classed together as "small groups" on the basis of their amenability to study by a certain body of research procedures.

Whether or not this classification is of particular theoretical significance, it is nevertheless clear that direct, face-to-face interaction takes place in all of these groups and there is little reason to doubt that human interaction on a face-to-face level has at least certain formal similarities wherever we find it. Probably it will be recognized also that some more or less identical problems of first-hand skills and ethics in human relations are involved for the participants in all. The scientific relevance of the present procedure is based on these minimum assumptions.

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