What is group behavior?

Group behavior is the behavior of human groups, from formation to dissolution. Along with many other organisms, human beings tend to group together and engage in cooperative activities. The behaviors of a group can be highly variable, as can the factors that exert pressure on the group. Social psychologists study group behavior. His work contributes to everything from developing targeted advertising to understanding how crowds react to dangerous situations.

Groups can vary widely in size and composition. People tend to drift towards people with similar characteristics, and the composition of a group that emerges organically can be more homogeneous. In contrast, a group with forced membership, such as an assigned group of people in a class who must complete a project together, will be more variable. Various activities can facilitate bonding within the group, one reason why many organizations use retreats and icebreakers to get their members working together.

Within a group, various interesting phenomena can occur and these are subjects of study in the field of group behavior. Some personalities may be more dominant than others, and some members may emerge as natural leaders and trendsetters within groups. Groups can create a situation where individual members will be influenced by each other. Group members may act as a herd or mob to make decisions, rather than considering issues as individuals. Groups can also be narrow-minded, as seen in groupthink, where pressures within the group lead to a poor decision.

Humans can be members of more than one group at the same time, and group membership can only be temporary. At a concert, for example, attendees form a group and may behave in unison for a few hours before separating at the end of the event to return to their own lives. While functioning as a group, they can be prone to situations such as mass panic that can endanger the group as a whole. Stampedes and roadblocks generally involve a series of events that trigger the development of thoughtless and dangerous group behavior.

Understanding how groups work is important in many settings. For teachers and work supervisors, it is important to know how groups operate and how to improve their functionality. Law enforcement officers, on the other hand, need to know how to control and work with crowds for safety. Marketers also observe group behavior and use their findings to tailor advertisements and public outreach.

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