‘An individual’s behaviour may be influenced by a group’. Discuss this statement with reference to group theory. Being a part of a group can significantly influence the behaviour of an individual. The way people behave being alone can be totally different from the way he or she behaves being a member of a group. Often people tend to “stifle their own preferences in favour of the group’s code of behaviour” or conform to the particular group environment (Mullins, 2005, p. 336).
To explain the phenomena there are several group theories. To begin with, according to the Social exchange theory, the main purpose for people to enter into relationships with other individuals is a wish to obtain some benefits from them. This means that both sides are expecting to get several rewards from one another and to make sure that they will continue to receive these benefits, each side has to incur some costs all the time (Rollinson, 2005). On this basis, groups are able to control the behaviour of their members.
What is more, individuals are highly dependent on group norms and values, which mean set of behavioural rules or standards established to regulate how group members will behave (Wallace, 1990). Usually people conform to group norms and behave more predictably which makes it easier for group members to trust and contact with one another (Robbins, 2005). Several experiments have been conducted to show how significantly human’s behaviour can change by the consensus of opinion around them.
In the Asch experiment (1951) the groups of people were asked a question about which of the offered lines most truly matched the length of line “A”. The sense was that only 1 person in the group was a true subject, others were instructed to give incorrect answers. In these circumstances the majority of true subjects eventually agreed with the incorrect groups’ judgement (Shuttleworth, 2008). So that the experiment showed that group members tend to conform even if it means to agree to the opinion they know is untrue.
Moreover, according to Sherif’s experiment sometimes being influenced by a group, individuals can shape even their individual perceptions. During the experiment, subjects were placed into a dark room and asked to report the directions of movement of the light spot. When subjects answered individually their answers differed a lot, but when they were given opportunity to discuss the question, they all gave the same answer (Rollinson, 2005). However, the conforming behaviour is also dependant on personality characteristics.
For instance, researches showed that individuals with the higher level of education or higher social-class are less likely to conform than individuals with a low level of self-confidence and feel of insecurity (Carroll and Tosi, 1977). All things considered, evidences that individual conformity exists and that person’s behaviour can be influenced by the group is undeniable. As we can see from the Social exchange theory groups have a power to control members’ behaviour as individuals working together receive benefits and in turn incur costs.
In addition, people tend to abide group norms which dictate individuals to behave in a certain way. In turn, the phenomena of person’s conformity is confirmed with experiments mentioned above, which proved that groups can influence not only individual’s opinion but even perception. Nevertheless, the impact on group member’s behaviour can vary as the phenomenon is highly dependent on personality characteristics of an individual. 542 WORDS References Mullins, J. (2005). Management and organisational behaviour. Seventh edition. Harlow :Financial Times Prentice Hall. Rollinson, D. 2005). Organizational Behaviour and Analysis: An Integrated Approach. Third edition. Harlow : Financial Times Prentice Hall. Shuttleworth, M. (2008). Asch Experiment. Available from: http://www. experiment-resources. com/asch-experiment. html [Accessed on 10th November 2011] Wellace, B. (1990). Bureaucracies & organizational behaviour. Fifth edition. HarperCollins. Robbins, S. ,P. (2005). Organizational behaviour. Eleventh edition. Upper Saddle River, N. J. : Pearson/Prentice Hall. Carroll, S. ,J. , Tosi, H. ,L. (1977) Organizational Behavior. Chicago: St. Clair Press.