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Group Patterns: Definition & Explanation

Instructor: Anthony Jordan

Anthony has taught Political Science at the university level and is working on his Ph.D. in Political Science.

In this lesson group patterns will be defined and identified. Group patterns are often used in social science, but can be used economically. Group patterns can also be used negatively. Examples will be provided and a test will follow.

Group Patterns

Group patterns occur when all (or many) members of a group act a particular way in certain circumstances. Group patterns can often emerge in deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning usually involves making generalities to help predict specific behavior. With group patterns, these generalities are discovered by observing groups of people in as great of detail as possible for long periods of time.

Group patterns do conflict with some recent sociological trends. They appear to run contrary to humanist movements that began in the early 1900s, which stressed individuality. If people are all individuals, how could group patterns exist? While it is possible to identify group patterns and be a humanist, there's an obvious clash present.

The usefulness of group patterns are determined by the individual using them. Group patterns can be used in the social sciences as well as economically, but they can also be used negatively.

Group Patterns in Social Science

Social scientific research of the past six decades or so tells us that groups of people can act the same way in certain circumstances. This can be useful in science to figure out why groups act as they do. Why would many individuals within a group voluntarily and faithfully choose one option out of many? As you might imagine, this question drives quite a bit of social scientific research.

In psychology group patterns can aid in helping people. If one of your friends is addicted to alcohol or an illegal drug, then a group of social scientists observing your group of friends might find that even though your group of friends is diverse, many of you may also act the same way! This might sound kind of scary, but know that this can provide information to therapists and psychiatrists to help those suffering from addiction. Instead of taking time and money to learn about every individual, therapists and psychiatrists can begin to apply techniques that are useful to the majority of addicts and subtly alter them as they learn more about their patients as individuals.

In political science, group patterns are used by staff members who run a political candidate's campaign. By being able to recognize which groups are unsure, campaign staff can tailor their efforts to winning those people over instead of attempting to appeal to groups that have made up their minds. It also helps campaign workers realizing who their base of support is and is in their minds as they craft speeches and messages.

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