Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

William Groman


Of special interest in the field of social psychology are the differences among groups in their functioning that distinguishes them from one another. Cartwright and Zander (1960) speak of this in pointing out that some groups work together with a great deal more success, satisfaction, and with a greater sense of togetherness than others. Some groups are racked with dissent, insouciance, and such a failure to meet goals and standards as to result in a slow death of inactivity. These differences persist even under basically identical circumstances. Concerning this point, Pepitone and Kleiner (1957, p. 192) state:

Everyday observations of how "threat" and "frustration" operate are highly inconsistent. It is often apparent, for example, that groups under stress "pull together" and "close ranks" more than under normal circumstances.

Investigation in this area has been relatively recent in coming, and theory is yet greatly lacking. A few studies were done prior to and around 1940, but the majority have been conducted after 1950. One indication of the growth occurring in the last twenty-five years is the proliferation of tenns and the different meanings attached to them. Generally falling under the heading "cohesiveness," researchers have spoken of "sticking togetherness," productivity, power, task involvement, feeling of belongingness, shared understanding of roles, and good teamwork (Schachter, Ellerton, McBride, and Gregory, 1951).

Despite the variability, definitions of "cohesiveness" can be roughly categorized into two classes. The first deals with the particular aspects of group behavior, or process, referring to such things as the morale, efficiency, or "spirit" of the group. The second centers around the attractiveness of the group for its members (Schachter, Ellerton, McBride, and Gregory, 1951). Festinger, Schachter, and Back (1950), in defining "cohesiveness" as the average resulting force acting on members with direction to the group, give emphasis to the second class while generally neglecting the first. Blake (1953), 0n the other hand, was more concerned with the behavior of the group, speaking in terms of the expression of positive and negative feelings, but he interpreted such in the light of what attitudes toward the group it reflected.

Recognizing the problem, Cartwright and Zander (1960, p. 72) attempted to refine the concept of cohesiveness in the following:

The term "cohesiveness" refers to phenomena which come into existence if, and only if, the group exists. A person must have some notion about the properties of a given group before he can react to it favorably or unfavorabLy. His attraction to the group will depend upon two sets of conditions: (a) such properties of the group as its goals, programs, size, type of organization, and position in the community; and (b) the needs of the person for affiliation, recognition, security, and other things which can be mediated by the groups. Both the nature of the group and the motivational state of the persons must be treated in any adequate formulation of group cohesiveness . . . The valence, or attractiveness, of any object or activity is a function of the needs of the individual and the properties of the object.

In light of such a formulation it would seem that cohesiveness is defined by the needs of each group and its functions, and that a fruitful approach for investigation is to study it by varying these two conditions as much as possible. Perhaps some tendencies can then be found which will better explain the differences among groups.

The present study deals with both the behavior of a group and the attitudes of its members in a situation in which their functioning was continually being affected by external factors. In one condition their progress toward the achievement of a goal was continually blocked, leading to eventual failure. In the second condition their progress toward the goal was permitted, and perhaps helped, to continually improve, leading to eventual success. In terms of cohesiveness the specific concern of this study is the differences in support and opposition between members of triadic groups and differences in their attitudes toward one another under these circumstances.


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