First Impressions – always a hard thing to shake but I have discovered that very often my first impression is just an indication of my doctrinal upbringing rather than a true interpretation; but since we are being encouraged to reveal our thinking about and not just expressing our fully formed opinions, I would have to say that I fall directly and most likely at the high end of the Individualism Score for the United States as shown in Table 1.2, p. 13 of our textbook. [Tubbs, 2012]
It is rather exciting though to discover where all the influence about the importance of “groups” and “teams” has been coming from. I feel like this first chapter has been a revelation about the birth process. Over the years, I have viewed the growing emphasis from the commercial/business sectors on teams and on being a team player to international influence and a general concession on the part of large international corporations.
I would also like to reference an almost universal observation that the United States has been considered historically foremost in the world in a number of truly marvelous categories, not the least of which involve inventiveness, exploration, discovery, and most recently and most definitely Olympic champions! GO USA!!! Not only do i view these champions as exceptional, their dedication and singular commitment was reflected in their achievements, and Gwen Jorgensen’s winning of the first Gold medal for the US of a Triathlon exemplified the tenacity, endurance and strength of character I believe is reflected in the individualism to which this chart refers.
And further, I would like to suggest a possibility that the strength and achievements having been obtained by groups heretofore and being cited as the basis for such group success has been a direct result of the strength of the individualism within those groups.
I would further like to suggest that some of what our author refers to in his examples of empowerment cited from Connors and Smith (2011) from page 15, “See it … Own it …. Solve it …. [and] Do it” at first glance, appear very individualistic in nature; and also the reference to “autonomy” given on this same page but being described as a “closely related dimension” is to me the very definition of individualism.
On the other hand, there is more than one aspect to a group … my family “group” is wonderful, my friends “group” is sustaining and inspiring, my school “group” is invigorating, and on and on with the positive effects of groups. On that same topic, but with a little humor, i found this short video on the topic of small groups and team work on YouTube:
YouTube segment from Madagascar Escape 2 Africa
However, I am impressed overall and excited to be exploring the aspect of growth and achievement that can be attained by group activities. I see almost immediate application of so much of this chapter to a group I am very involved with doing volunteer work … more on that later. But i don’t want to forget an insight that came from reading some of the “inherent advantages” section on p. 14 and that is the power of a group to influence through acceptance and rejection.
In addition, the dynamics our author introduces has another nuance in that there are published findings discussing such things as seating arrangement influencing interaction, “The analysis of several sets of data from five-man laboratory groups tends to support the hypothesis that both centrality of seating position and distance between members can be used to predict the interaction pattern. This pattern only appears in a ‘task’ session. In a ‘social’ session for the same type of group, members tend to talk more to the person next to them as they turn away from the group for a more intimate conversation. Personality vari[a]bles are also related to seating choice and to interaction rate. More dominant subjects tend to choose the central seats and to do the most talking.” [Hare, Bales, 1963] If you would like the full paper, just fill out the contact form, use your KSU student email address and I will send it to you. It is a pdf file and free to students.
And in the same breath that i am enthusiastically endorsing the potential for group effectiveness and essentialness, i am reminded of the dangers also represented by group-anything, such as the phenomenon of “groupthink” very pointedly expressed in an article here on the Psychologists for Social Responsibility website.
Questions for the class:
I am such an optimist the thought of entropy being a “universal law of nature” was quite interesting and i took his use of “negative” entropy to be the reversing of that phenomenon through group dynamics. Did i get that right?
I also made up a redefinition of the term that was so new to me, “equifinality” to mean equally fine. Is that even close?
- Hare, Paul A. and Bales, Robert F. Seating Position and Small Group Interaction. Sociometry 26.4 (1963): 480-86. Web.
- Hashim, A. Madagascar Penguins Best and funniest Team work, Oct 9, 2013. YouTube: Segment from Madagascar Escape 2 Africa. Retrieved Aug, 14, 2016, from : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI4zp7yeuMU&feature=youtu.be.
- Tubbs, S.L. A Systems Approach to Small Group Interaction. McGraw-Hill. New York City. 2012.