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Group Cohesion: Keeping It All Together

Group Cohesion: Keeping It All Together

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the concept of group cohesiveness and the factors which increase or decrease group cohesion.

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Group Cohesion: Keeping It All Together

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So why do some groups remain together over long periods of time? The group members seem to form strong bonds. They stick together. And other groups fall apart. Well, I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to talk about that with you.

I'd like to talk about group cohesiveness and the factors that promote it. Now, group cohesiveness refers to the tendency of members of the group to remain together over long periods of time. And we're going to look at some of the factors that promote that.

But let's start by remembering why we join groups. We're all members of groups. And we join them for many different reasons, most typically because we have something in common with the other people who are in this group. And it's usually a common interest, belief, or value.

And when we join a group, we're looking for some sort of reward and gain. We're attracted to the group because we're going to get something from it. And we feel, also, like we have a sense of belonging with the people in this group. "Ah, they're my kind of people." You've heard that phrase. I feel at home with these people, comfortable. We're alike. We share this interest or value.

So two very strong reasons for groups remaining cohesive or sticking together is this element of attraction. There's a reward or gain here and a sense of belonging. These are my people.

For example, say you're a musician. And you join a band or musical group. And these are other musicians who enjoy the same kind of music, who I want to practice this music, perhaps compose their own music. So there's going to be reward, gain, here by being part of this group.

Or it could be perhaps you are a writer and you join a writers group. And you're looking for reward, gain. These are my people. I belong here.

Now, another reason that this group will stick together is if the experiences and perceptions of all the group members are the same. That we're all getting something from this. We're all feeling like we're similar to one another. And there's a sense of teamwork.

We're working on something together. We have a shared goal. That's what teamwork is.

And perhaps if you're the musician, one of your goals is to learn a new, difficult piece of music and perform it publicly. And so you share that goal. And if you achieve it-- whatever your goal is-- then you experience group success. That you collaborated on something, and you achieved it, which even strengthens the bonds in the group more. So we've got group success.

And you can think about this with any group you belong to. Maybe it's a sports team. Or you played hockey. Or you were a gymnast.

And as a team, you were going for particular prize. You're going to win at a meet. And you do. That group success really does solidify the bond between the team members.

Now, this next element here, "entry difficulty." Now that's sort of an interesting term. And what that refers to is how difficult it is to get into the group. How exclusive is this group? What kind of special positive characteristics do have to have to be part of this group?

The more exclusive or the more you see, yes, not everybody can be in this group, but only those that have this particular characteristic can be here-- whether it's music or writing or some particular sport that you're good at and you're part of that team, whatever it is that's going to strengthen the bond, because you feel it's more exclusive.

It was hard to get in here. I earned my right. I'm a good musician, and I'm part of this band. So entry difficulty is another element here that promote promotes cohesiveness.

Now this last element is external threat, external competition. If you see a threat coming from outside, team members are going to bond together. And we can see this with the military certainly.

Somebody's been a marine, there always a United States Marine. If they served and they have faced a threat and come through it, they and their fellow soldiers feel this bond, which lasts a lifetime. But this just isn't in the military.

It can be any competition. It could be with the sports team. Or it could be with chess. You're part of a chess group, and you go to a championship. And there's the external threat the other team, who's going to win. And you band together with your teammates.

Or it could be a threat, perhaps you feel that there's a threat in the environment. And you want to protect the rainforest. And you're part of a group that's doing that. You're working to preserve natural resources. So you're working against this threat that you see out there to destroy the environment.

So whatever that might be, the external threat, when group members come together, through teamwork they share a goal. And then if they achieve success, that just reinforces the group. Self reinforcement tends to promote a feeling that this is a strong group.

I want to be part of this group. I'm attracted to it. I'm getting the rewards and games that I wanted when I joined this group. And these are my people. These are my people.

So we groups sticking together over years. We see this with religious groups. We see it with political groups. For any number of reasons when these elements and factors are present, it promotes group cohesiveness.

So thank you for joining me. And I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

The perception that one's group members are potential sources of reward or gain.

Entry Difficulty

Perception that one's group is exclusive, requiring particular positive characteristics for entry or membership.

Group Cohesiveness

The tendency of a group to remain together (feeling similarity and affective bonds) over time.

Group Success

Instances when collaboration between group members leads to shared interests being met.


The tendency of a principle or belief to become more strongly held after evidence that holding the belief leads to a positive gain.

Sense of Belonging

Perception that one is safe, comfortable, and valued by members of one's group.


Collaborative effort to achieve shared goals with others perceived as being members of one's group.