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Individual Behavior and Group Behavior

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Individual Behavior and Group Behavior

When you are around your friends, you're WILD! You don't hold back anything. However, when you're around your parents, you're a completely different person. You're quieter and reserved. For most of us, our individual behavior often changes in the presence of others and may depend on who the "others" are.

  • Definition of individual and group behavior.
  • Difference between individual behavior and group behavior.
  • Individual behavior and group behavior examples.
  • Principles of individual and group behavior.
  • Theories of individual and group behavior.

Individual and Group Behavior Definition

Individual and group behavior is a central focus for social psychologists. Social psychologists examine individual and group behavior in several settings. They ask questions such as:

  • What influences individual behavior?

  • What influences group behavior?

  • How do individual and group behavior interact?

  • How does personality affect individual and group behavior?

  • Does a person's individual behavior change while in a group?

Let's take a look at a few important individual and group behavior definitions. First, social psychologists may describe a person's individual behavior with a blanket term such as introvert or extrovert.

Introvert: An introvert is someone who processes information and social interactions internally. Their behavior may be quieter or reserved (but not always).

Social situations often drain introverts and they usually need to retreat into solitude to recharge.

Extrovert: An extrovert is someone who processes information and social interactions externally. They may be more outgoing and sociable (but not always).

Culture is a type of group behavior that often impacts our individual behavior more than anything else. There are two different types of cultures: individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

Individualistic cultures: Individualistic cultures, like in the United States, prioritize the needs of the individual over the needs of the group.

Collectivistic cultures: Collectivistic cultures prioritize the needs of the group over the needs of the individual.

Differences Between Individual Behavior and Group Behavior

Individual or interpersonal behavior refers to the behaviors of an individual, which may be internally or externally motivated. Individual behavior can range from mundane tasks such as brushing your teeth to more complex tasks such as decision-making. Several factors can influence individual behavior as well including genetics, environment, past experiences, trauma, personality, or mental health.

Group or intrapersonal behaviors refer to the collective behavior of two or more people either towards one other or those outside of the group. Social psychologists might look at how a group is formed, what makes a group a group, or how a group accomplishes its goals.

Individual Behavior and Group Behavior, five people with together is better written above, StudySmarterGroups work together to achieve goals, freepik.com

Members of a group do not have to have the same individual behaviors to form a group behavior. Your teammates in track all behave differently as individuals, but when you interact and engage with one another, you form group behavior. One could think of social behavior as the bridge between individual behaviors and group behaviors.

Social Behavior: Social behavior is that which influences or is influenced by others, either within or outside your group.

Individual behavior can influence group behavior and group behavior can influence individual behavior. Additionally, individual behavior may conform in order to comply with socially acceptable group behavior.

Individual Behavior and Group Behavior Examples

Before we explore more about principles and theories, let's first introduce a few individual behavior and group behavior examples. Individual behavior may include:

  • how you treat your friends or family.

  • your motivation in school.

  • what you do for work.

  • what you choose to eat or not eat.

  • what your hobbies are.

The list can go on. Individual behavior is what you do of your own will, separate from others. Group behavior, however, may include:

  • how two or more people achieve the same goal.

  • how individuals with shared characteristics treat each other and those outside of the group.

  • how a group changes individual behavior.

  • social norms and expectations.

  • leadership between two or more individuals.

Sometimes, individual and group behavior can look similar. For example, discrimination can come from one person or a group of people.

Discrimination: the prejudicial or unjust treatment of others based on their group, class, or other descriptive categories.

Principles of Individual and Group Behavior

One of the primary areas of study for psychologists is behavior. They seek to understand how individual behavior reflects personality and mental state. If someone's individual behavior is abnormal, the next step is usually to evaluate their mental health. When psychologists study group behavior, they examine how a group thinks, functions, completes tasks, achieves goals, and interacts with outsiders.

Conformity

Additionally, a person's individual behavior may change while in a group and around others. To some degree, we all either consciously or unconsciously engage in social comparison. As a result, groups tend to generate conformity.

Conformity: the act of reflecting the same beliefs or behavior in order to comply with group norms and fit in.

Our behavior may conform in the presence of others, or we may engage in other principles to determine our individual behavior. Let's take a look at a few principles of individual and group behavior.

Actor-Observer Bias

Actor-observer bias is when we believe that other people’s behaviors are due to internal factors and our own behaviors are due to circumstantial forces.

If another person fails a test, you may believe that it's due to internal factors such as a lack of intelligence. If you fail a test, you might blame it on circumstantial forces such as a lack of sleep the night before.

Fundamental Attribution Error

Sometimes we tend to overemphasize internal factors of behavior and underestimate the influence of the situation. This is called a fundamental attribution error.

You're pretty confident that you have superpowers because you pointed at a cup and it blew over. However, you are not considering the potential influence of the situation, that is, the wind.

Just-World Hypothesis

Just-world hypothesis is the belief that people get what they deserve. This ideology is especially common in the U.S.

If your worst enemy broke their finger during a fight with your best friend, your first thought is "they got what they deserve."

Self-Serving Bias

Self-serving bias is our tendency to credit positive outcomes to internal attributions and negative outcomes to external attributions.

You received a $300 bonus at work and you're positive it's "good karma" because gave your friend a ride to the airport. However, when you got in a car accident, you don't believe it has anything to do with your negative traits and everything to do with the bad drivers on the road.

Individual Behavior and Group Behavior, man with thumbs towards him wearing cape, StudySmarterSelf-serving bias, freepik.com

Individual and Group Behavior Theory

As we mentioned earlier, behavior is a primary area of study for psychologists. So it should come as no surprise that several individual and group behavior theories have formed. Many of these theories observe how a person's individual behavior is influenced by being in a group. We are going to take a look at three including facilitation, social loafing, and deindividuation.

Social Facilitation

Say you have practiced your standup comedy routine a million times alone in the mirror. When it comes time to perform, you can feel your mind getting even sharper as more people entered the room. This phenomenon is called social facilitation.

Social facilitation: Social facilitation is the phenomenon that your performance is strengthed in the presence of others

There are, however, other layers to this. Your performance usually only improves in front of others if it is an easy task for you and you feel competent in completing it. If it is too difficult of a task, your performance may actually weaken in the presence of others.

Social Loafing

When you are driving on the road and everyone around you is speeding, you might pay less attention to your speedometer and claim you're going along with the "speed of traffic." However, if you are on the road alone, you pay a bit more attention to the speedometer. Why is that? Social loafing may play a role.

Social loafing: Social loafing is the phenomenon in which a person's effort diminishes in the presence of others.

There are several reasons why social loafing occurs. A person may:

  • believe what they have to offer is dispensable.

  • feel less accountable or responsible.

  • be overestimating their contributions and underestimating others' actions.

  • want to ride on others' efforts rather than putting in their own.

Deindividuation

Finally, deindividuation is arguably one of the more severe ways that individual behavior can change in the presence of others.

Deindividuation: Deindividuation is when a person loses self-awareness and self-restraint due to the arousal and anonymity of group participation.

How do you know if you've fallen victim to deindividuation? Well, ask yourself this: would you have done that severe thing if you were by yourself? If the answer is no, deindividuation could be at play. Deindividuation can quickly get out of hand. When masked by a group, a person may find the courage to behave in a way they otherwise would not if they were alone and exposed.

During a riot, you notice that your friends are behaving in a way they otherwise would not if they were alone. But since they are within a group, anonymous, and aroused, they are more motivated to egg a car or spray paint a building.

Individual Behavior and Group Behavior - Key takeaways

  • Individual and group behavior is a central focus for social psychologists. Social psychologists examine individual and group behavior in several settings.
  • Individual or interpersonal behavior refers to the behaviors of an individual that may be internally or externally motivated. Group or intrapersonal behaviors refer to the collective behavior of two or more people either towards one other or those outside of the group.
  • Sometimes, individual and group behavior can look similar. For example, discrimination can come from one person or a group of people.
  • To some degree, we all either consciously or unconsciously engage in social comparison. Our behavior may conform in the presence of others, or we may engage in other principles to determine our individual behavior.
  • Many of theories of individual and group theories observe how a person's individual behavior is influenced by being in a group. Three examples include social facilitation, social loafing, and deindividuation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Individual Behavior and Group Behavior

Individual or interpersonal behavior refers to the behaviors of an individual that may be internally or externally motivated. Group or intrapersonal behaviors refer to the collective behavior of two or more people either towards one other or those outside of the group.

An individual may change their behavior based on group norms and status in order to fit in and feel accepted. 

Individual behavior may include: 

  • how you treat your friends or family.

  • your motivation in school.

  • what you do for work. 

  • what you choose to eat or not eat. 

  • what your hobbies are. 

Concepts of group behavior include social facilitation, social loafing, and deindividuation.

Social psychologists may divide individual behavior into two types: introvert and extrovert. 

Final Individual Behavior and Group Behavior Quiz

Question

Which of the following is not usually a question social psychologists ask regarding individual and group behavior? 

Show answer

Answer

How do thoughts cause mental disorders?

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Question

A(n) __________ is someone who processes information and social interactions internally. Their behavior may be quieter or reserved (but not always).

Show answer

Answer

introvert

Show question

Question

A(n) ___________ is someone who processes information and social interactions externally. They may be more outgoing and sociable (but not always). 

Show answer

Answer

extrovert

Show question

Question

________________ like in the United States, prioritizes the needs of the individual over the needs of the group.  


Show answer

Answer

Individualistic cultures

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Question

______________ prioritize the needs of the group over the needs of the individual. 


Show answer

Answer

Collectivistic cultures

Show question

Question

Which of the following does not affect individual behavior.

Show answer

Answer

All of these affect individual behavior.

Show question

Question

True or false? Individual behaviors of each member of a group must be exactly the same. 


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Answer

False

Show question

Question

________________ is behavior that influences or is influenced by others, either within or outside of your group. 

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Answer

Social behavior

Show question

Question

__________ is the act of reflecting the same beliefs or behavior in order to comply with group norms and fit in.

Show answer

Answer

Show question

Question

What is actor-observer bias?


Show answer

Answer

Actor-observer bias is when we believe that other people’s behaviors are due to internal factors and our own behaviors are due to circumstantial forces. 


Show question

Question


Sometimes we tend to overemphasize internal factors of behavior and underestimate the influence of the situation. This is called a _____________

Show answer

Answer

fundamental attribution error.

Show question

Question

___________ is our tendency to credit positive outcomes to internal attributions and negative outcomes to external attributions.

Show answer

Answer

Self-serving bias

Show question

Question

If your worst enemy broke their finger during a fight with your best friend, your first thought is "they got what they deserve." This is an example of what principle of indivual and group behavior. 

Show answer

Answer

Just-World Hypothesis

Show question

Question

_______________ is the phenomenon that your performance is strengthed in the presence of others

Show answer

Answer

Social facilitation

Show question

Question

______________ is the phenomenon in which a person's effort diminishes in the presence of others.

Show answer

Answer

Social loafing

Show question

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