Group influence paper

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Group influence paper

  1. 1. Heading: GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 1 Group Influence Paper Adreena Lind October 28,2013 Psychology 400 Pr. Jodi Clarke
  2. 2. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 2 Part I 1. How were the people arranged in the physical environment (layout of room and seating arrangement)? The environment was comfortable an invited (nothing like what I had expected). The group members were free to sit where they pleased and the entire atmosphere was calm and relaxing. There was a larger sofa and several comfortable looking chairs placed around a coffee table. It almost had anatmosphere of being at a good friend’s house with new and old friends for some kind of book club or something along those lines. 2. What is the composition of the group, in terms of number of people, ages, sex, ethnicity, etc.? The group session I was invited to attend consisted of several women (varying from ten to twelve). The group members varied in age, and ethnicity. All of these women had different stories with one thing in common; they had all experienced some kind of domestic violence and now sought a new life free from that fear and anxiety. 3. What are the group purpose, mission, and goals? This group seems to work to allow women that have experienced certain traumatic events in their lives to learn from one another’s stories. The group is a safe place that these women are able to share intimate part of their lives and are often exceptionally venerable in doing so; the meetings are meant to be a judgment free zone. By talking and interacting with each other the group as well as the individual are able to see that she is not alone and can build trust and a sense of community to establish or re-establish a deeper understanding of self. 4. What is the duration of the group (short, long-term)? Explain.
  3. 3. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 3 The group session last for an hour; I did not get the impression that this was too long or too short. It did seem that most of the women really enjoyed the session, and that it really helped them to find solace and grow from their experiences. 5. Did the group structure its discussion around an agenda, program, rules of order, etc.? The group discussed personal goals, past events of each person’s situation, why each person was here and what she expected to gain from this experience. Many of the women really seems to want to find a better direction and how to move on from the past and making changes, so that she would not spinalback into to the same patterns. There are no formal rules except topics of discussion are to stay within the confines of the group, to be respectful and receptive to others. 6. Describe the structure of the group. How is the group organized? The group started with and an introduction from the group facilitator and then each member gave her name and share some information about self. After the introduction, the facilitator restated the minutes from the meeting that had taken place prior to this meeting. Some of the previous topics were discussed briefly, so that all the group members were familiar with the events of that meeting. The facilitator then asked the women of the group if there were any particular topics that they would like to discuss or share. Many of the women seemed somewhat shy at first, but then the conversation began. The more familiar members seem to be more willing to share their stories and feeling, but eventually everyone joined the conversation. 7. Who are the primary facilitators of the group? The primary facilitator is a social worker. The social worker seemed to work as a mediator, counselor, and guide for the women and the direction of the meeting.
  4. 4. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 4 Additionally, I believe the guide engaged the women using useful and thought provoking tools and open-ended questions to help the group discussions progress. 8. What subject or issues did the group members examine during the meeting? I think one of the biggest issues with the group was trust, every seemed to wait to develop a trusting relationship and also be able to trust their own judgment in live, parenting, and finding a happy relationship. Many of the group discussion were centered onrecognizing signs of anabuser and avoiding those types of relationships. Another topic that seemed to be very important was for the mothers of children that had seen or been abused learn to handle that fact and to really understand the effects that abuse has on the child(ren). 9. What types of information did members exchange in their group? The majority of the talks were directed at how to avoid entering another abusive relationship and to look out for the signs of an aggressive partner. Additionally, members of the group often discussed how to help children deal with copping and moving passed the violence that he or she had experienced. This was a very important topic to many of the women as most were parents. 10. What were the group's norms, roles, status hierarchy, or communication patterns? I think that one of the norms was having an understanding that not every person in the meeting was going to want to share that the talks had to be provoking and still supportive and comforting. Many of the women that did share had seemed have been in the program longer and had developed a degree of trust in the group. The group had become familiar and the process of sharing and finding with the process. These women were comfortable with sharing and helping other (newer members) want to share and confide in the group discussion.
  5. 5. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 5 11. What communication patterns illustrated if the group was unified or fragmented? Explain. There were some points where the social worker had to draw the conversation back to a main topic. I do think is this way the conversation was fragmented, but this was not the entire time. I think that when dealing with people from different backgrounds and experiences it can be difficult to maintain a steady focus, but the topics always seem to be what was most important to each member. For example, at one point in the group session that was a reading of an article where a woman was raped because she did not suspect an acquaintance to be “that kind of person.” The women were asked to give examples of some possible signs that may have indicted the man was a “possible” aggressor. There were some scattered conversation, but for the most part the talks did seem to be focused and unified. 12. Did the members share a sense of identity with one another (characteristics of the groupsimilarities, interests, philosophy, etc.)? I think that the women were able to identify with one another because they had each experienced some kind of trauma whether verbal, mental, sexual, or physical. Their stories may have been different, but there was still this connect that each women was not allow in the fight to move past the pain and gain a strong self-image, independence, and confidence. Many of the members seem to be at different levels of healing, but there was a strong supportive system put in place to support this process and one that I believe created a bond between its members. 13. Was there any indication that members might be vulnerable to Groupthink? Why or why not?
  6. 6. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 6 I do not think that there is any indication that members would be venerable to groupthink. The group seems to work towards building the individual’s perception and understanding of violence in order to make better discussions and avoid making the same mistakes. I did not see anyone trying to mask any issue that was presented to the group and in fact, because of the subject matter, find that groupthink would be practically impossible. Each woman has her own story and must deal with her own pain, but the group seems to be put in place so that each woman knows she has somewhere where she is able to relate to other women that have been through similar trauma and are still surviving and growing from those experiences. 14. In your opinion, how did the collective group behaviors influence individual attitudes and the group's effectiveness? Provide your overall analysis. At the end of the session, the women seemed to be happier; I think the mood and progression of the group environment allowed the group members feel less isolated in their grief and experiences. The group environment seemed to have given these women a chance to feel like a survivor, rather than a victim. The group provided knowledge and experience that otherwise would not have been possible. I think being able to see other people live through similar events allowed these women to keep moving forward and not give in to their own heart-ache. I loved my experience during this group session and was truly inspired. I hope that in the future I have the opportunity to come back and play a more substantial role in help women like the group members I met during this meeting.
  7. 7. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 7 Abstract This paper will analyze the group dynamic from a socio-psychological perspectivein order to provide a clearer understanding of group influence. In addition,this paper will clarify aspects of norm formation, conformity, and group norms in an observed social environment from a primary sourceversus related research and studies on the subject matter from secondary sources. This paper will work to develop a comprehensive understanding of how social interactionsinfluence the individual and the group dynamic. Finally, this paper will expounduponthe information gathered from observing a socially interactive group in comparison with the collective studies in order to determine the most reliable conclusion.
  8. 8. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 8 Group Influence Paper Part II The group environment is the social interaction between two or more people. Groups have the power to influence the perspectives of individuals in social events (Myers, 2010). The magnitude of influence that a group can have far extends beyond the development of interpersonal relationships. The development of a group dynamic has a great deal to do with the behaviors of the individual members. The behaviors of members influence and affect fellow members on a subconscious level. The social interactions and events of the group impact all members and these behaviors affect ultimately the quality and success of the group experience. The Safe Horizon Women’s Therapy Group is one such group. The organization, Safe Horizon, is the leading advocacy and intervention center for victims of sexual violence and crimes, abuse, trafficking, and homelessness (Safe Horizon, 2013). The program provides victims and their family members with an opportunity to have access to many different resources; one of which being group counseling. During an observed session of the social interactions between group participants of the Safe Horizon Women’s Therapy Group there appeared to be a strong social involvement and unity among its members. This particular group works to develop the self-esteem of its members and break down any feelings of isolation caused by being victims of violence. Social influence often occurs when the individual acts together with additional individuals or group members (Safe Horizon, 2013). The impact of this interaction can be positive or negative depending on the ultimate goals of those exterior influences and generally does influence the future behaviors of
  9. 9. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 9 the individual (Myers, 2010). The goal of the group session is to provide a judgment free safe environment, whichthese experiences can be sharedand learned from (Safe Horizon, 2013). The session was comprisedof approximately 10 members; all the members of this group were women. Some of the women had children, some did not, and all had experiences that differ from others in the group. No two stories were alike; every woman seemed to come from a different backgrounds and experienced abuse in different ways. Some of the women had experienced prolonged physical, mental, verbal, and sexual violence for years before seeking help, others had experienced abused of their children, or short-term interaction with an aggressive or abusive spouse or partner. Upon entering the room where the meeting was heldwas a circle formed by several chairs and a larger sofa around a coffee table. The chairs were placedon one side and the sofa on the other; in between the two halves of the furniture formed circle was a small but comfy looking chair, which the facilitator used. Seating for the other members in the group was not assigned and the members seemed to sit wherever most comfortable. The hierarchy that was to be establishedin the group session was basedupon seniority (i.e.Women thathad been in the shelter longer). The meeting began with a greeting and brief introduction of the members starting with the facilitator; a social worker named Janelle. The conversation moved to a brief overview of the last meeting, restating some of the talks and relating that discussion to new topics. The facilitator drew the conversation to a recent article the local newspaper. The group members were permitted to join in the developing conversation; stating their opinions of the topic in the news and how it related to their own experiences. The more vocal members were the senior members of the group and their enthusiasm seemed to work as an invitation for the newer group members. The group members exchanged their thoughts,
  10. 10. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 10 concerns, and perspectives based on their individual situations. No topic was off limits in relation to the topic and was open to all the group members could join the conversation with one another. Groupthink is the psychological term that relates the group’s desire a united perspective and often does so by the group member’s submission to the group ideal and of conforming to those beliefs (Friedkin, 2001). Social groups that display signs of have groupthink desire and have a need for complete control of its members, which is donethrough processes of conformity. This is done is the hopes of preserving the ideals of the group at the cost of the individuality of the group member (Myers, 2010). The process of conformity called on three principles; the group must be cohesive, isolatedfrom opposing views, and a strong a leader whose decisions solely benefited his or herself (Myers, 2010). The Safe Horizon Women’s Therapy Group showed no indication that groupthink played no particular role in the success of the group.The group members sought the comfort of the group as a way to escape isolation and be freed from feelings of conforming to a violent partner in the past. The definition of conformity is the altering or assuming behaviors and attitudes that are beneficialto fit with the social norms in a group or social environment (Friedkin, 2001). The Safe Horizon Women’s Therapy Group while exhibiting social norms and protocols; such being respectful or others and not discussing information in the group outsidethe group environment there did not seem to be conformity among the group members. The purpose of the group seemed to promote individuality versus trying to create a solitary unit from its members. The members were authentic, honest, and themselves the entire session and showed no signs of wanting to ever again bow to the whims of another person, let alone a group. It is true that most of these women were venerable because of their experiences, but the support of the group environment and the aid of the facilitator seemed to be empowering rather than trying to diminish ones individuality. The influence of a group dynamic can have significant effects on the individual. In fact some studies even show how
  11. 11. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 11 interpersonal bonds and relationship can build the emotional state of an individual (Friedkin, 2001). The information gathered from observing this group session suggests this is true. The emotional state that was manifested in this groupwasa positive one that the members seemed to appreciate. Social interaction, group, and interpersonal relationships are essential component of human life. Human beings are designedto find other people and create social relationships. Social interactions enhance cognitive skills in the individual and groups to develop technology, knowledge, intellect, solve problems, language skills, communication, and so much more.Although it is true that there are those that take advantage of the group environment by creating a negative influence on the individual this is not the norm (Friedkin, 2001). The idea of completely avoiding social interaction is almost obscene because it has so any beneficial components, and adds so much depth to the human experience. The Safe Horizon Women’s Therapy Group is a positive social group that serves its individual members through a supportive and shared atmosphere when some are at the lowest points. This organization helps to save lives, rebuild self-esteem, and helps its members to regain a sense of self. The group members learn to move past their experiences, negativity, and trauma to get their lives together and achieve individual goals.
  12. 12. GROUP INFLUENCE PAPER 12 References Friedkin, N. (2001, July). Norm Formation in Social Influence Networks. Science Direct, 23(3), 167-189. Myers, D. (2010). Social Psychology (10th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

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