Anthony has taught Political Science at the university level and is working on his Ph.D. in Political Science.
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.
Group Patterns in the Economy
Recognizing group patterns could be profitable to those in business. Think of websites you frequently visit then think about the advertisements on those websites. The advertisements are usually aimed at the group of people who are going to visit that website and buy or partake in activity similar to what is on the website. For instances a sports website might have advertisements for services that buy and sell tickets to supporting events. They are building on previous information, which suggests that those who visit sports' websites are more likely to attend sporting events.
Group Patterns Used Negatively
It's important to remember, though, that group patterns are not always used positively. Group patterns can play a role in racism. If a racist believes that a different race will act dangerously and supports it with cherry-picked examples, then he or she will be cautious and distrustful of that particular race as a whole. If one only receives information about the members of a race who act violently and commit criminal acts, then one can adopt racist views believing them to be necessary for self-preservation.
It should be noted that racists often use inductive reasoning. Instead of accepting another race in its entirety at face value, racists will use negative events and actions of a few members of a different race to make sweeping generalities about every member of that race.
Group patterns are closely aligned with deductive reasoning. By observing a group, one can understand their general approaches to life and attempt to predict their behavior. This can be helpful to social science and advertisers, but it can be a tool of hate groups especially when it's paired up with inductive reasoning.
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