The Nature and Significance of Groups

Donelson R. Forsyth

in The Oxford Handbook of Group Counseling

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195394450
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Nature and Significance of Groups

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An understanding of group counseling requires an understanding of groups themselves, their basic nature and processes. Given that human beings are a social species and spend their lives in groups rather than alone, an individual-level analysis of adjustment, well-being, and treatment, with its focus on internal, psychological processes, should be supplemented by a group-level analysis. The defining features of a group are relationships linking a substantial number of members, boundaries, interdependence, structure, cohesion, and entitativity (perceived groupness); and groups with more of these features are more influential than other forms of association, such as social networks. The chapter reviews a number of group-level processes that influence members’ adjustment, including loneliness, ostracism, social support, socialization, social identity, and performance, before recommending a synthesis of the individual- and group-level perspectives in a multilevel analysis of human development, adjustment, and potential.

Keywords: individual-level analysis; group-level analysis; cohesion; entitativity; social networks; loneliness; ostracism; social support

Article.  12706 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Counselling Psychology

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