Introduction: Group Behavior

What you’ll learn to do: explain how conformity, obedience, groupthink, social facilitation, social loafing, altruism, and attraction relate to group behavior

The power of the situation can lead people to conform, or go along with the group, even in the face of inaccurate information. Conformity to group norms is driven by two motivations, the desire to fit in and be liked and the desire to be accurate and gain information from the group. Authority figures also have influence over our behaviors, and many people become obedient and follow orders even if the orders are contrary to their personal values. Conformity to group pressures can also result in groupthink, or the faulty decision-making process that results from cohesive group members trying to maintain group harmony. Group situations can improve human behavior through facilitating performance on easy tasks, but inhibiting performance on difficult tasks. The presence of others can also lead to social loafing when individual efforts cannot be evaluated. In this section, you’ll learn about each of these concepts as well as the influences that lead to helpful, prosocial behavior.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the results of research on conformity, and distinguish between normative and informational social influence.
  • Describe Stanley Milgram’s experiment and its implications
  • Illustrate when the presence of others is likely to result in groupthink, social facilitation, or social loafing
  • Describe attraction and the triangular theory of love
  • Explain the social exchange theory as it applies to relationships