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Reference Groups

Reference Groups

Author: Paul Hannan

Identify the characteristics of reference groups.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain, Images from, Public Domain

Video Transcription

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology-- Studies of Society. Today's session is on reference groups. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, or even fast forward to make you get the most out of the tutorial.

So we have a really brief tutorial on reference groups. Now again, we're looking at a group, so just two or more people. And a reference group is really just a way that we compare ourselves to other groups. So it's a group that help us really just figure out what are the guidelines for how to act and what to believe in.

You don't have to actually ever want to be a group member of a group or ever become a member of a group to have it be a reference group. You don't have to aspire to be them, just to be able to look at them and compare yourselves to what they're doing and help decide what you think is the proper behavior.

And our reference groups change throughout time. Groups that we look to for guidance as a child are going to be different when we're older, from a teenager. And they can change-- actually, they don't have to take many years. They can change over a couple of days. I mean, there's not really a set time. Once you have a reference group, it doesn't mean that you're stuck always referring to that group for guidance.

The kind of take-away from a reference group is it really helps us determine our own views of ourselves. So by watching these other groups, we help figure out what is important to us and what really is us.

So today's take-away message is just that a reference group is a group that helps us to set guidelines for behavior and values.

That's it for this lesson. Good work. And hopefully you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
Reference Groups

A social group with which people identify and to which they refer when evaluating themselves and their behavior.