What is social psychology of personality and why is it necessary to study this science?

Concept and tasks

In modern psychology, the concept of “social group” is a collection of individuals who have similar features, perform the same type of activity, and perceive themselves as members of a community. The group has 3 main qualities:

  • mandatory interaction between participants;
  • unity of goals for which the group was created;
  • all members have a characteristic unique to this community.

Social psychology of groups studies the process of group formation, its types, structure and influence on the individual. The task of the industry is to assess and forecast the development of the group, identify the characteristics of interaction, and the main criteria. Throughout life, a person simultaneously belongs to several groups and often moves from one to another. This is due to a change in activity or status: for example, a schoolchild becomes a student, a worker becomes a pensioner. In this regard, we can highlight the main task of social psychology of groups - classification according to certain criteria.

What is it: concept

A social process is a significant change in social life carried out by groups of people to satisfy their interests.

Because society is made up of many different groups, there are constant clashes of views and opinions.

This leads to continuous changes in all areas of interaction between people.

Society cannot exist without social processes, since its full development and functioning are constant changes and transformations.

History of development

Social psychology began studying groups only at the beginning of the 20th century. Previously, the object of study was the individual, not society. They examined in depth the characteristics of perception, attitudes, and interpersonal interaction, but did not try to evaluate a person as an integral part of formation.

Some psychologists completely denied the existence of groups as objects of study. This approach in social psychology was called personalistic. But in parallel with it, another way of studying developed - sociological. Its proponents argued that one cannot fully understand the motives of a person's behavior if one studies him only as an individual. A group, as an association of people, inevitably influences a person and this cannot be ignored.

The study of group processes has developed more actively in the United States. Under the leadership of K. Levin, research was carried out in the laboratory studying the dynamics, types of leadership, cohesion and other categories that determine the behavior of formations.

Already in the middle of the 20th century, personalistic and sociological psychology joined forces. This happened under the influence of government agencies interested in the emergence of new effective methods of managing industrial and military organizations. Interest in the study of various formations only increased by the end of the 20th century. Nowadays, research methods continue to expand and improve.

Social Psychology

Social psychology is a branch of psychology that studies human behavior in society (society), mental phenomena that occur during the interaction of different groups of people. That is, it examines the patterns of behavior of people who are part of various groups, their thoughts about each other, how they influence each other, and how they relate to each other. This direction appeared in the middle of the 19th century. Before this, it was presented only as a social philosophy.

The uniqueness of this direction lies in the fact that it is located between sociology and psychology. It cannot be attributed to any of these areas. It is rather unifying. The fact is that psychology considers more intrapersonal aspects and social situations, while sociology considers extrapersonal and social processes that determine human behavior. The object of study of social psychology is both intrapersonal and extrapersonal aspects.

A person spends most of his life in society among other people, uniting with them in various groups: family, work team, friends, sports clubs, etc. At the same time, these groups interact with other groups of people, both small and large. Understanding how this interaction occurs is important for resolving family and national conflicts, in the system of people management, etc.

In this case, a group is understood as several people united by one action. For example, if people witnessed an accident and gathered to watch, then such a gathering of people is not considered a group. If they began to help the participants in the accident, then they formed a temporary group united by one action.

Groups provide satisfaction of certain needs of society as a whole and each of its members individually.

In this regard, social psychology divides groups into the following categories:

  1. Primary groups (family), which a person comes to first, and secondary groups (work team), where a person comes after primary groups.
  2. Large groups (nations, peoples) and small groups (family, friends).
  3. Formal and informal. A formal structure is created to carry out official tasks. Informal connections arise spontaneously as individuals interact.

Groups perform 4 functions:

  1. Socialization is the process of including an individual in a certain social environment and assimilating its norms and values. Thus, the family serves to acquire certain life skills in a social environment.
  2. Instrumental - the implementation of one or another joint activity of people. Participation in such groups, as a rule, provides a person with material means of living and provides him with opportunities for self-realization.
  3. Expressive - meeting people's needs for approval, respect and trust. This role is usually performed by primary informal groups.
  4. Supportive - Bringing people together in groups during difficult situations. As experiments have shown, in the face of danger, people strive to get psychologically closer to each other.

The properties of groups are influenced by size and number. Some sociologists believe that a group begins with the union of 2 people, but a number of scientists argue that the minimum composition of a group is 3 people. This is due to the fragility of the dyad. In the triad, interaction already occurs in two directions, which makes the structure more durable. The maximum small group size is 10 people. As a rule, in social psychology the terms small group and primary group are equivalent.

The structure of a group depends on its goals, and is also influenced by socio-demographic, social and psychological factors. They can cause the group to break up into several smaller groups.

Social psychology pays a lot of attention to psychological compatibility in groups, since its members have to come into contact with each other. And here, clashes and misunderstandings are possible. It is also possible to create an entire group.

Scientists have identified 4 types of communicative behavior:

  1. People who strive for leadership, trying to subordinate other people to accomplish a given task.
  2. People who strive to complete a task alone.
  3. People who adapt to the group and easily obey the orders of others.
  4. Collectivists who strive to complete a given task through joint efforts.

Therefore, one of the important tasks is to build relationships between these groups of people in a team.

Social psychologists study the effectiveness of individual and group decision making. When developing group decisions, sociologists also noticed the division of people into 5 categories:

  1. Individuals tend to talk more than others.
  2. Individuals with high status have more influence on decisions than individuals with low status.
  3. Groups often spend a significant proportion of their time resolving interpersonal differences.
  4. Groups can lose sight of their purpose and end up with incongruous conclusions.
  5. Group members often experience exceptionally strong pressure to conform.

Recently, sociologists have begun to pay much attention to issues of management and leadership, noting their differences. They identified 3 types of leadership:

  1. Autocratic. The leader makes decisions alone, determining all the activities of his subordinates and not giving them the opportunity to take the initiative.
  2. Democratic. The leader involves subordinates in the decision-making process based on group discussion, stimulating their activity and sharing with them all decision-making powers.
  3. Free. The leader avoids any personal participation in decision making, giving subordinates complete freedom to make decisions on their own.

Thus, one can see the importance of scientific research in the field of social psychology, the importance of the practical use of this knowledge in people's everyday lives.

Basic forms and characteristics of communities

There are many types of social formations. To correctly classify groups in psychology, it is necessary to identify the exact criteria by which formations are evaluated.

Based on the nature of interaction, two groups are distinguished:

  • primary - relatively stable, with constant close interaction between members, aimed at the socialization of the individual;
  • secondary - numerous, with a predominantly formal type of interaction, aimed at achieving a specific goal.

Based on the type of interaction, communities are:

  • formal - there is a legal status with clearly defined standards of relationships, the purpose of activity and a fixed hierarchy;
  • informal - they appear spontaneously, have no official regulations, and quickly disintegrate.

The communities to which an individual belongs are called ingroups (family, educational or work community, ethnic minority). Communities into which an individual cannot or does not want to be included (another religious community, another family, another age category) are called outgroups.

Based on the number of people and the form of interpersonal connections, small and large groups are distinguished. Small is always small (two people united by a common goal are already considered a group) and has a number of constant characteristics:

  • high stability of the composition (new members join rarely, often replacing those who have left);
  • participants have similar values ​​and moral standards;
  • interpersonal relationships are intense, stable;
  • the sense of belonging to a community is developed, arouses approval and pride among the participants;
  • clear division of roles, the leader is the unconditional authority.

A large group is distinguished by its large composition and purpose. It is created to achieve a certain result, but there is no interaction between the participants that can ensure rapid achievement of the goal.

The highest form of a group, providing optimal conditions for the development and work of individuals, is a collective. Signs that distinguish a team from other formations: the coincidence of the goals of the individual and society, the unity of principles and value orientations.

Separation according to significant characteristics distinguishes between real and nominal groups. Real formations include those that have socially significant features:

  • gender - man or woman;
  • ethnicity - European, Asian, Latin American;
  • age - child, teenager, adult, elderly;
  • profession - teacher, doctor, businessman;
  • marital status - married, divorced, single;
  • place of residence - city, town, village;
  • income level - wealthy, poor, rich.

The nominal ones include formations that are specially allocated for research (passengers entitled to discounted travel, scholarship students, mothers of large families). A person has the right to join such a formation and leave it at any time. For example, disability benefits can be withdrawn, and an unemployed person can get a job.

All groups, regardless of type, have the following mandatory qualities:

  • referentiality - acceptance or rejection of values;
  • leadership - the degree of influence of one person on another within the framework of formation;
  • integrativeness - the degree of merging of participants, unity or disunity;
  • microclimate - satisfaction and comfort;
  • orientation - the value of attitudes for society.

The presence of these qualities distinguishes a group from a crowd - a spontaneous formation in which people do not have stable connections and the need for communication.

Professional knowledge

  1. Patterns of activity and behavior of people included in various social groups.
  2. Patterns of development of social groups.
  3. Patterns of conflict development and ways to resolve them.
  4. Peculiarities of behavior of an individual included in a group.
  5. People’s understanding and perception of each other, features of interpersonal relationships in society.
  6. Social stereotypes and attitudes, patterns of their appearance, their stability, structure, variability, transmission and assimilation algorithm.
  7. Phenomena and phenomena of the psyche related to small, medium and large social groups.
  8. The relationship between the individual and the group, leadership, intergroup relationships.
  9. Patterns of formation of the psychological climate in a team, the effectiveness of certain leadership styles, ways to increase the productivity of group activities.
  10. Psychodiagnostics, methods of organizing and conducting psychological research.
  11. Psychotherapy, methods of effective psychological support.

Mandatory stages of development and roles of individuals within formations

A group is not formed immediately after people unite. Stages of socio-psychological maturity:

  1. Conglomerate - strangers find themselves in the same territory for the first time.
  2. A nominal group - a community receives a name and status.
  3. Association - a structure is formed, common interests appear.
  4. Cooperation is active joint interaction, clear designation of roles and structure, formation of intra-group morality.
  5. Autonomy - in the process of joint activity, the desires of individuals are satisfied.
  6. A corporation is a closed community that is opposed to others.
  7. Team - joint activity presupposes integrativeness (collective decision-making).

Each person has his own role in formation, which he performs consciously or simply obeys the imposed model of behavior. There are 3 types of roles:

  1. Social roles. Necessary to maintain dynamics. Increase cohesion and emotional connections between people. These include: mediator, peacemaker, observer.
  2. Roles aimed at performing common tasks. They help achieve the goal set before the formation. They assume rational use of resources and minimize efforts. These include: initiator, informant, coordinator, mentor.
  3. Roles aimed at achieving personal interests. They disorganize participants by using community resources to achieve their own benefit. These include: loner, skeptic, aggressor, cynic.

The manager’s task is to monitor the fulfillment of roles, encourage relationships that are beneficial for the community, and promptly stop the activities of disruptors.

Functions and conditions for normal development

The community has a number of functions that affect each member:

  • socializing - assimilation of norms of behavior, education;
  • instrumental - carrying out the necessary activities;
  • expressive - satisfying the need for acceptance, emotional contacts;
  • supportive - moral support.

If the functions are not fulfilled, the community cannot function and quickly disintegrates. Normally, it should develop as a community and provide conditions for the development of individuals.

Interpersonal relationships of individuals within a community

Within a community, different types of relationships are established between individuals:

  • official - based on structure, prescribed rules;
  • unofficial - arise as a result of personal sympathies;
  • business – arise during the performance of official duties;
  • rational - based on an objective assessment of other participants;
  • emotional – subjective assessment decides everything.

Community management regulates the relationship between the leader and subordinates. With positive dynamics, subordinates recognize the authority of the leader. If negative, they are inclined to protest and create conditions for the emergence of an informal leader.

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