Group Cohesiveness: Definition, Factors, Importance & Consequences

Group Cohesiveness: Definition, Factors, Importance & Consequences
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  • 0:00 Group Cohesiveness Defined
  • 1:12 Factors
  • 3:34 Importance
  • 4:01 Consequences
  • 5:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Kinder
In this lesson, you'll learn about group cohesiveness, why it's important, and some consequences of a cohesive or non-cohesive group. Learn about the factors that affect group cohesiveness with some real-life examples.

Group Cohesiveness Defined

Imagine you are on a work project with three co-workers and aren't able to make progress because of conflict. Or maybe you are in a therapy group for depression and feel connected to, and safe with, the other group members. These are examples of group cohesion types that one can experience while being a member of a group.

Group cohesiveness can be defined as a bond that pulls people toward membership in a particular group and resists separation from that group. In addition, group cohesion generally has three characteristics. They include the following:

Interpersonal Attraction

This means group members have a preference or want to interact with each other. Group members enjoy this interaction and seek it out.

Group Pride

This involves group members viewing their membership to a specific group with fondness. They feel proud of their group membership, and staying in the group feels valuable.

Commitment to the Work of the Group

Group members value the work of the group and believe in its goals. They are willing to work together to complete tasks which are aligned with these group goals, even through adversity.

Factors

The ability of a group to be more or less cohesive is dependent on several factors. Here are some important factors that have been found to impact group cohesiveness.

Similarity

When the group members are similar, it's easier for the group to become cohesive. The similarity can be due to several factors, such as having similar values, beliefs, life circumstances, or pressing life issues.

Example: A group of patients with depression might be more cohesive than a group of ten members each with different mental health diagnoses.

Group Openness to New Members

When a group is open and welcoming to new members, group members more easily develop cohesion. Often over time, group membership will change due to various life circumstances or changing individual needs.

Example: Josh's bowling team lost Frank when he moved out of town. James joined the team in Frank's place. The rest of the bowling team welcomed James with open arms. James felt accepted and began to really look forward to bowling nights.

Trust

When group members feel they can trust each other, group cohesiveness is more easily developed.

Example: A veteran shares with his PTSD support group things he did in Iraq for which he feels guilty. The other veterans in the group provide reassurance and don't judge him. The group is closer as a result.

Stage of the Group

When a new group forms, there tends to be an initial burst in group cohesiveness because the first goal of any group is often to form.

Example: Jaime joined a new weight loss group to help her keep her weight loss on track. When Jaime and the other new group members went to the first meeting, they started sharing their weight loss struggles. Jaime instantly felt close to the other members and was happy she joined the group.

Past Group Experiences

When members of a new group have had previous positive group experiences, they are more easily able to establish group cohesion. When members have had past group experiences that were unfavorable, they will resist developing cohesion.

Example: Last year Julie was involved with a work group project that had lots of tension and conflict. The group had so much difficulty working together that the project was never completed, and the group was disbanded. When Julie was assigned a new work group this year, she dreaded it and kept her distance from the other group members.

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