December 5, 2007

Group Character is Unique

[Prior Reading: The Concept of Groups]
Individuals in a group are influenced by their perception of the group character. The sum total of this influenced individual behaviour gives the group its character.

Individuals rarely behave as themselves in a group. In most cases they try to fit in with the group and/or try to impress the group. They do this based on their perception of the character of the group. Very often, more than one groups are dominant on an individual, hence his (her) behaviour is simultaneously influenced by multiple groups. The character of the group is sum total of the character being demonstrated by each member in the group.

The perception of the character of the group, that influences individual behaviour, normally arises from the actions of a very small number of individuals. It spreads very quickly through the group as more and more individuals perceive that behaviour as the group behaviour. Sometimes a small action of just one individual is enough to spread a fire across the entire group.

In the initial stages of a football match, the "Lawyer Group" and the "Spectators Group" is dominant on a lawyer in the stadium. At the same time, the "Celebrity Group" and the "Spectators Group" is dominant on a film-star in the same stadium. Both of them are likely to be cheering their teams, as expected from spectators. The lawyer may be doing it in a subtle manner that befits a lawyer. And the film-star may be doing it in a flashy and dramatic way as expected from celebrities. However, as the match becomes exciting, and draws towards a nail biting finish, the "Spectators Group" becomes more dominant on both the lawyer and the film-star. They now behave very similar in the way the cheer and shout in support of their teams. As the match is only 5 minutes from finish some spectators get very excited and stand on their seat, within moments almost the entire stadium, including the lawyer and the film-star are standing and shouting excitedly at the supporters of the other side. Outside the group, the lawyer or the film-star could not have imagined being the way they were during the last 5 minutes of the match.

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