Individual & Group Behavior - Quick Guide

Individual & Group Behavior - Introduction

Organizational behavior is the study of both group and individual performance and action within an enterprise. This field of study scans human behavior in the working atmosphere.

It determines its effect on job structure, performance, communication, motivation, leadership, decision making abilities etc. The way an individual behaves and behavior as a group have two perspectives − internal and external.

Behavior Analysis at Different Levels

Behavior as an individual or in a group is always analyzed by everyone in the organization. It is analyzed at three different levels −

  • Individual level of analysis
  • Group level of analysis
  • Organizational level of analysis

Individual Level of Analysis

Organizational behavior, at this level of analysis massively draws upon psychology, engineering, and medicine. At the individual level of analysis, organizational behavior includes the study of learning, perception, creativity, motivation, and personality.

In addition, it also includes the study of turnover, task performance and evaluation, coordinated behavior, deviant work behavior, ethics, and cognition.

For example − Ram joins a company as an intern and is very open to learning new things but as time passes and he gets promoted his attitude towards his interns becomes rude. This is a fine example of individual level of analysis.

Group Level of Analysis

Organizational behavior, at this level of analysis, draws upon the sociological and socio-psychological discipline. At the group level of analysis, organizational behavior includes the study of group gesture, intra-group and intergroup dispute and attachment.

It is further extended to the study of leadership, power, norms, interpersonal communication, networks, and roles.

An example of this level of analysis − Board of directors of company X decide to give bonus to their workers as they have really worked hard on a certain project.

Organizational Level of Analysis

Organizational behavior, at this level of analysis draws upon sociology and political science. At this level of analysis, organizational behavior includes the study of organizational culture, structure, cultural diversity, inter-organizational cooperation and coordination.

It further includes the study of dispute, change, technology, and external environmental forces. Some other fields of study that adds to the interest of organizational behavior are ergonomics, statistics, and psychometrics.

To have a clear understanding on the topic and avoid any kind of confusion let’s look at an example at different levels and try to analyze it.

Rohit is interested in becoming a singer as he is interested in music and feels he can do better in this field. While his parents force him to pursue his job as a software engineer, as according to his father’s perception a software job pays well and is far better than struggling to become a singer.

In this case, we see Rohit and his father have a clash of opinions, hence this is a case of individual level of analysis.

Extending this example further, if Rohit seeks help from his friends on this matter his friends will support him as they have the same mindset support the idea of following their own dreams, struggling and achieving their goal. Meanwhile Rohit’s father’s friend circle might find the idea of pursuing singing as a career insane and support his father’s decision of opting for a software.

Here we see two different groups of people with contradicting ideologies, this becomes a case of group level of analysis.

Individual Behavior

Individual behavior can be defined as a mix of responses to external and internal stimuli. It is the way a person reacts in different situations and the way someone expresses different emotions like anger, happiness, love, etc.

To get a brief idea about the individual behavior let us learn about the individual behavior framework and other key elements related to it.

Individual Behavior Framework

On the basis of these elements, psychologist Kurt Lewin stated the Field theory and outlined the behavior framework. This psychological theory studies the patterns of interaction between an individual and the environment. The theory is expressed using the formula

B = F(P,E)

where, B – Behavior, F - Behavior Function, P – Person, and E - Environment around the person.

Say for example, a well payed person who loses his job in recession may behave differently when unemployed.

Causes of Individual Behavior

Certain individual characteristics are responsible for the way a person behaves in daily life situations as well as reacts to any emergency situations. These characteristics are categorized as −

  • Inherited characteristics
  • Learned characteristics

Inherited Characteristics

The features individuals acquire from their parents or from our forefathers are the inherited characteristics. In other words, the gifted features an individual possesses by birth is considered as inherited characteristics.

Following features are considered as inherited characteristics −

  • Color of a person’s eye
  • Religion/Race of a person
  • Shape of the nose
  • Shape of earlobes

Learned Characteristics

Nobody learns everything by birth. First our school is our home, then our society followed by our educational institutions. The characteristics an individual acquires by observing, practicing and learning from others and the surroundings is known as learned characteristics.

It consists of the following features −

  • Perception − Result of different senses like feeling, hearing etc.

  • Values − Influences perception of a situation, decision making process.

  • Personality − Patterns of thinking, feeling, understanding and behaving.

  • Attitude − Positive or negative attitude like expressing one’s thought.

Factors Influencing Individual Behavior

The way an individual addresses a situation single-handedly or say in a group is influenced by many factors. The key factors influencing an individual’s attitude in personal as well as social life are −

  • Abilities
  • Gender
  • Race and culture
  • Attribution
  • Perception
  • Attitude

Let’s take a quick look over these major elements that imprints a person’s behavior inside and outside of the organization.


Abilities are the traits a person learns from the environment around as well as the traits a person is gifted with by birth. These traits are broadly classified as −

  • Intellectual abilities
  • Physical abilities
  • Self-awareness abilities

In order to understand how these affect a person’s behavior, we need to know what these abilities are.

  • Intellectual abilities − It personifies a person’s intelligence, verbal and analytical reasoning abilities, memory as well as verbal comprehension.

  • Physical abilities − It personifies a person’s physical strength, stamina, body coordination as well as motor skills.

  • Self-awareness abilities − It symbolizes how a person feels about the task, while a manager’s perception of his abilities decides the kind of work that needs to be allotted to an individual.

Thus the psychological, physical, self-assurance traits owned by a person defines the behavior of a person in social and personal life. For ex: Ram has a high IQ level, whereas Rahul can lift a bike and is a strong guy.


Research proves that men and women both stand equal in terms of job performance and mental abilities; however, society still emphasizes differences between the two genders. Absenteeism is one area in an organization where differences are found as women are considered to be the primary caregiver for children. A factor that might influence work allocation and evaluation in an organization is the manager’s perception and personal values.

For example − An organization encourages both genders to work efficiently towards the company’s goal and no special promotion or demotion is given or tolerated for any specific gender.

Race & Culture

Race is a group of people sharing similar physical features. It is used to define types of persons according to perceived traits. For example − Indian, African. On the other hand, culture can be defined as the traits, ideas, customs and traditions one follows either as a person or in a group. For example − Celebrating a festival.

Race & culture have always exerted an important influence both at the workplace as well as in the society. The common mistakes such as attributing behavior and stereotyping according to individual’s race & culture basically influences an individual’s behavior.

In today’s diverse work culture, the management as well as staff should learn and accept different cultures, values, and common protocols to create more comfortable corporate culture.

For example − A company invites candidates for a job post and hires one on the basis of eligibility criteria and not on the basis of the country a person belongs to or the customs one follows.


Perception is an intellectual process of transforming sensory stimuli into meaningful information. It is the process of interpreting something that we see or hear in our mind and use it later to judge and give a verdict on a situation, person, group, etc.

It can be divided into six types namely −

  • Of sound − The ability to receive sound by identifying vibrations.

  • Of speech − The competence of interpreting and understanding the sounds of language heard.

  • Touch − Identifying objects through patterns of its surface by touching it.

  • Taste − The ability to detect flavor of substances by tasting it through sensory organs known as taste buds.

  • Other senses − Other senses include balance, acceleration, pain, time, sensation felt in throat and lungs etc.

  • Of the social world − It permits people to understand other individuals and groups of their social world.

For example − Priya goes to a restaurant and likes their customer service, so she will perceive that it is a good place to hang out and will recommend it to her friends, who may or may not like it. However, Priya’s perception about the restaurant remains good.


Attribution is the course of observing behavior followed by determining its cause based on individual’s personality or situation.

Attribution framework uses the following three criteria −

  • Consensus − The extent to which people in the same situation might react similarly.

  • Distinctiveness − The extent to which a person’s behavior can be associated to situations or personality.

  • Consistency − The frequency measurement of the observed behavior, that is, how often does this behavior occur.

The framework mentioned says it is all about how an individual behaves in different situations.

For example − Rohit invites Anisha and two more friends for a movie and they agree to bunk and watch the movie, this is consensus. Bunking of class says that they are not interested in their lectures, this is distinctiveness. A little change in the situation, like if Rohit frequently starts bunking the class then his friends may or may not support him. The frequency of their support and their rejection decides consistency.


Attitude is the abstract learnt reaction or say response of a person’s entire cognitive process over a time span.

For example − A person who has worked with different companies might develop an attitude of indifference towards organizational citizenship.

Now we have a clear idea about what are the factors responsible for the way we behave. We never think about these elements and how they affect our daily life but we can’t ignore the fact that they are responsible for the way we walk, talk, eat, socialize, etc.

Occupational Personality Types

The traits we use to find out the careers and college majors we should opt for, and will fit us the best is known as occupational personality traits. Personality can be further classified on the basis of an individual’s occupation and vocational options. John Holland grouped these features into six personality types −

  • Realistic Personality − These types of individuals have a realistic personality. They are shy in nature, stable, and practical. They belong to professions like agriculture, engineering, fashion designing, etc.

  • Investigative Personality − These types of individuals are analytical, curious, and have an independent mindset. They belong to professions like writing, teaching, medicine, etc.

  • Artistic Personality − These types of individuals have great imagination and are idealistic. They belong to professions like fine arts, music, photography, etc.

  • Social Personality − These types of individuals are sociable, helpful and cooperative in nature. They belong to professions like teaching, social work, counseling, etc.

  • Enterprising Personality − These types of individuals are ambitious, adventurous and energetic. They belong to professions like business, journalism, consultancy, etc.

  • Conventional Personality − These types of individuals are practical, organized, and logical. They belong to professions like training, nursing, finance, etc.

Most people fall into anyone of these six personality types.

People sharing the same personality type and working together create a work environment that fits their type. For example, when enterprising persons are together on a job, they create a work environment that rewards enthusiastic and innovative thinking and behavior -- an enterprising environment.

People opt for such environments where they can use their skills and abilities, and freely express their values and attitudes. For example, Realistic types search for stable work environment; Artistic types look for Artistic environment, and so forth.

People who work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be successful and satisfied with their job. For example, artistic persons are more likely to be successful and satisfied if they choose a job that has an artistic environment, like choosing to be a music teacher in a music school -- an environment "dominated" by artistic people where innovative abilities and expression are highly valued.

Understanding the theory and using it efficiently, aligns our core personality traits to fields that nurture who we are, who we want to be, by offering a rewarding path towards professional and personal growth.

Myers-Briggs Types of Indicator

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator is a set of psychometric questionnaire designed to weigh psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The Myers Briggs model of personality developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, is established on four preferences namely −

  • Types of social interaction
  • Preference for gathering data
  • Preference for decision making
  • Style of decision making

With respect to the prescribed Myers Briggs type of indicator, preferences include eight leadership styles −

  • E or I (Extraversion or Introversion)
  • S or N (Sensing or iNtuition)
  • T or F (Thinking or Feeling)
  • J or P (Judgment or Perception)

We combine the bias to give our Myers Briggs personality type. Say for example, our preferences is for E and S and T and J, so it leads to personality type of ESTJ. In the same way, there are sixteen Myers Briggs personality types that can be generated by combining these four letters together.

When we put these four letters together, we get our personality type code, and there are sixteen combinations. For example, INTJ implies that we prefer Introversion, Intuition, Thinking and Judging (remember, this implies preferences only - an INTJ also uses Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling and Perception).

Types of Social Interaction

The way a person communicates with people around and links with others socially is called social interaction. Who are we, how do we communicate with people? In order to answer these question we classify individuals and their preferences to direct their energy into two types Extraversion & Extrovert, Introversion & Introvert.

Extraversion or Extrovert

If people prefer to direct their energy to cope with others, things, situations, or "the outer world", then their preference is for Extraversion.

An extrovert is an outgoing, socially confident person. This is denoted by the letter "E".

Introversion or Introvert

If people prefer to direct their energy to deal with ideas, information, explanations, beliefs, or "the inner world", then their preference is for Introversion.

An introvert is a shy and reticent person. This is denoted by the letter "I".

For example − Archana is a nerdy girl and takes time to mingle up with others and is considered as an introvert while Alka is a very outgoing person and gels easily with everyone, so she is considered as an extrovert.

Preference for Gathering Data

Everything we see, we hear we process them in our brains. Now how do we prefer to process information? On what basis? To answer this question, we need to understand how to we choose to transform our information.

We can collect information in two different ways, using two different information gathering functions − Sensing and Intuition.


If we choose to deal with facts, what we know, to have clarity or to describe what we see, then our preference is for Sensing.

This is denoted by the letter "S".


If we choose to deal with ideas, look into the unknown, to generate new possibilities or to engage what isn't obvious, then our preference is for Intuition.

This is denoted by the letter "N" (the letter I has already been used for Introversion).

For example − If I say that I believe something good is going to happen then it is just an intuition as I am basing my statement without any evidence rather on just a feeling. However, when I say that according to today’s weather forecast it is going to rain, then this is sensing as I have an evidence to support my statement.

Preference for Decision Making

There are two main types of functions through which we prefer to make our decisions.


If we choose to decide on the basis of objective logic, using an analytic and detached path, then our preference is for Thinking. This is denoted by the letter "T".


If we prefer to decide using values or our personal beliefs, on the basis of what we believe is important or what we or others care about, then our preference is for Feeling. This is denoted by the letter "F".

For example − If I get Rs. 500 lying on the road and I think as I got it, it’s mine then it is my thinking. However, if I think it’s not right to keep others money and decide to donate it then it is considered as a feeling.

Style of Decision Making

Style of decision making is nothing but the way we prefer to organize our life. It is done by either Perceiving or by Judging.


If we prefer to go with the flow, to maintain flexibility and respond to things as they arise in the first place, then our preference is for Perception. This is denoted by the letter "P".


If we prefer our life to be planned, stable and organized then our preference is for Judging (here it is not to be confused with being 'Judgmental', which is quite different). This is denoted by the letter "J".

For example − Mona gets a job and decides since she has got a job she need not worry about anything else. This attitude is perceiving. On the other hand, Tina aims for bank PO exam and plans her life where all her actions will help her achieve her dream job. This attitude is judging.

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

After getting a brief about the personality types, let us take a look at the 16 types of personality.

ISTJ (Introversion-Sensing-Thinking-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality are quiet, serious, earn success by honesty and are dependable. They are logical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. They decide practically what should be done and work towards it steadily, regardless of distractions. They like to keep everything synchronized and organized - their work, their home, their life. They prioritize traditions and loyalty.

ISFJ (Introversion-Sensing-Feeling-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality are quiet, friendly, responsible, and careful. They are committed and steady in meeting their demands. Thorough, painstaking, precise and accurate. They are loyal, considerate, notice and remember specifics about other individuals who are important to them, and are concerned with how others feel. They strive to create an orderly and harmonious surrounding at work and at home.

INFJ (Introversion-iNtuition-Feeling-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality always explore meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. They want to understand what encourages people and are insightful about others. Being careful in nature, they are committed to their firm values. They have a clear vision about how best to work for the common good. These type of individuals are organized and decisive in executing their vision.

INTJ (Introversion-iNtuition-Thinking-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality have a unique mindset and great drive for executing their ideas and achieving their goals. They quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range elaborative perspectives. Being committed, they start something to do and carry it through. Doubtful and independent, they have high standards of competence and performance - for themselves and others.

ISTP (Introversion-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are tolerant and flexible, quiet observers until a problem arises, then act quickly to find workable solutions. The examine what makes things work and readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical issues. They are interested in cause and effect, organize facts using practical principles, and value efficiency.

ISFP (Introversion-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are quiet, friendly, adaptable, sensitive, and kind. They enjoy the present moment, and are not bothered with what is going on around them. They like to have their own space and to work within their chosen time frame. They are loyal and committed to their principles and to people who are important to them. These individuals dislike disagreements and disputes, and also do not force their opinions or values on others.

INFP (Introversion-iNtuition-Feeling-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are idealistic, loyal, honest to their values and to people who are important to them. They want an external life that is compatible with their values. Anxious, quick to see possibilities, they can be catalysts for implementing ideas. They understand people and help them fulfill their potential. These individuals are adaptable, flexible, and accepting in nature until a value is threatened.

INTP (Introversion-iNtuition-Thinking-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. They are theoretical and abstract in nature, interested more in ideas than in social communication. They are silent, contained, flexible, and adaptable. These individuals have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve issues in their area of interest. They are skeptical, sometimes can be critical, and are always analytical.

ESTP (Extroversion-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are flexible and tolerant; they take a pragmatic approach determined on getting immediate results. Theories and conceptual elaborations bore them - they want to act energetically to solve the problem. They focus on the here-and-now, are active, spontaneous, and enjoy each moment. These type of individuals enjoy materialistic comfort and style. They learn only through doing.

ESFP (Extroversion-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are outgoing, friendly, free and accepting in nature. Enthusiastic lovers of life, people, and material comforts. They love working with others to make things happen. Bring shared sense and a realistic approach to their work, and make work fun. They are flexible and spontaneous, adapt readily to new people and surroundings. They learn best by trying new skills with other people.

ENFP (Extroversion-iNtuition-Feeling-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are warmly active and imaginative. They perceive life as full of happenings. Make links between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. They want a lot of confirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. These individuals are spontaneous and flexible, often depend on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.

ENTP (Extroversion-iNtuition-Thinking-Perceiving)

Individuals with this type of personality are quick, smart, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging issues. They are adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then testing them strategically. They are also good at reading people. Bored by daily routine, these individuals will seldom do the same thing the same way, and apt to turn to one new interest after another.

ESTJ (Extroversion-Sensing-Thinking-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality are practical, realistic, logical, and matter-of-fact. They are decisive in nature and quickly move to execute decisions. They organize projects and people to get things done, target on getting results in the most efficient way possible. They like to maintain routine details, have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and expect others to do so too. They are forceful in executing their plans.

ESFJ (Extroversion-Sensing-Feeling-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality are warmhearted, careful, and cooperative. They want harmony in their surrounding and work with determination to establish it. They like to work with others to complete work accurately and on time. They are loyal and tend to follow thoroughly even in small matters. They want to be appreciated for who they are and for their contribution.

ENFJ (Extroversion-iNtuition-Feeling-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality are warm, empathetic, responsive, active and responsible. They are highly sensitive to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. They find potential in everyone and want to help others act according to their potential. Often these type of individuals act as catalysts for a person’s or group’s growth. They are loyal, active to praise and criticism. They are sociable and provide inspiring leadership.

ENTJ (Extroversion-iNtuition-Thinking-Judging)

Individuals with this type of personality are frank, decisive, smart, and assume leadership readily. They quickly see illogical and inefficient steps and policies, and efficiently develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. They enjoy long-term planning, are usually well informed, updated, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. They are forceful in presenting their ideas and views.

These are the 16 different personality types in which an individual can be grouped into and we can learn about a person.

Big-Five Personality Model

The big five personality model identifies five types of personalities and every individual falls into at least one of these types.

Big-Five Personality Model

Openness to Experience

Openness flashes the level of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety within a person. It can also be elaborated as the scope to which an individual is imaginative or independent, and portrays a personal preference for a variety of activities over a scheduled routine.

Some debate may occur regarding how to interpret the openness factor, which is also known as "intellect" rather than openness to experience.

It includes inventiveness or curiousness in contrast to consistency or cautiousness. Appreciation for positive arts, emotions, inventions, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience is invited.

It is basically the extent to which an individual is original, has immense interests, and willingly takes risk.


It is the tendency of being standardized, steady, self-disciplined, acting dutifully, focusing on achieving goals, and prioritizing planned instead of spontaneous behavior. It contrasts efficient or organized behavior with easy-going or careless behavior.

It is the level to which a person is careful, cautious, and honest.


Positive energy, positive emotions, confidence, sociability and the tendency to explore stimulation in the organization with others, and talkativeness is extraversion. It contradicts outgoing or energetic behavior with solitary or reserved behavior.

Experiencing positive emotional states and feeling good about oneself and the world around one is extraversion.


Agreeableness is the tendency of being compassionate and cooperative instead of suspicious and antagonistic towards each other. It is a method of measuring one's trusting and helpful nature, and whether a person has a bad temper or not.

It distinguishes friendliness or compassionate with analytical or detached nature. In simple words, it is the tendency to get along well with others.

Emotional Stability

It contradicts sensitive or nervous nature with secure or confident one. Being bias towards experiencing unpleasant emotions easily, like anger, anxiety, depression, negativity and vulnerability. Neuroticism credits the degree of emotional stability and impulse control, and is frequently known by its low pole, emotional stability.

The tendency to sense negative emotional states and see oneself and the world around one negatively.

Mars Model of Individual Behavior

MARS model of individual behavior is a model that seeks to elaborate individual behavior as a result of internal and external factors or influences combined together. The name itself is an acronym for individual Motivation, Abilities, Role Perception and Situational Factors.

These are marked as the four major factors in determining individual behavior and results. The model can be implemented to a variety of situations, but is usually applied in Management, Industrial Psychology or Organizational Behavior studies. This model represents that these four factors have a mixed effect on individual performance. If any factor weakens, performance will decrease.

Say for example, passionate salespeople who understand their duties and have enough resources will not perform their jobs well if they lack sufficient knowledge and sales skill. Therefore, the Container Store and other enterprises that excel in customer service pay attention to all four factors in the MARS model.


Motivation can be described as internal forces that impact the direction, intensity, and endurance of a person’s voluntary choice of behavior. It consists of −

  • Direction − focused by goals.

  • Intensity − bulk of effort allocated.

  • Persistence − amount of time taken for the effort to be exerted.

For example − A team leader encourages team members to work efficiently.


Ability is the natural tendency and learned capabilities needed to complete a task successfully. It has four different parts namely −

  • Aptitudes − natural talent that helps people learn more efficiently and perform effectively.

  • Learned capabilities − accomplished skills and knowledge.

  • Competencies − abilities, individual values, personality traits and other features of people that result in superior performance.

  • Person-job fit − there are three ways to match people with jobs

    • selecting qualified people
    • developing employee abilities through training
    • redesigning job to fit person's existing abilities

For example − Rohan completes a task in 4 days while the time allotted was 6 days. He has the ability to complete it before the required time frame.

Role Perceptions

They are the beliefs about what behavior is necessary to achieve the desired results, and have a check that everyone is clear regarding their part. It is of four types −

  • Understanding the tasks to be performed.
  • Understanding associated importance of tasks allotted.
  • Understanding preferred behaviors to complete respective tasks.
  • Clarifying role perceptions

For example − Every member in a group is clear regarding the part allotted to them. For instance, the programmer writes the code and the tester checks it.

Situational Factors

They are the environmental conditions like given time bound, team members, budget, and work facilities that limits or facilitates behavior. Factors that are beyond the individual’s control in the short run.

Integrated Individual Behavior Model

Integrated individual behavior model helps in taking a decision in order to perform a task efficiently. It analyzes a person’s intention to act by studying three parameters− Attitudes, Perceived Norms, and Personal Agency.


Attitude invokes an individual's overall promising or unpromising perception towards a behavior consisting of affective and cognitive dimensions. Attitude is again of two types −

  • Experiential attitude
  • Instrumental attitude

Experiential attitude (affective attitude) is the emotional reaction of an individual towards the idea of performing the behavior.

Instrumental attitude (cognitive attitude) is determined by the beliefs regarding the results of behavior.

Perceived Norm

Perceived norm directs towards the social pressure one feels to achieve or abstain from a particular behavior.

Perceived norms are grouped into two categories −

  • Injunctive norm
  • Descriptive norm

Injunctive norm (like the subjective norm) hints to normative beliefs regarding what others think one should do and encouragement to comply.

Descriptive norm indicates to perceptions about what others in one's social or personal connections are up to. They are meant to capture situations where there is strong social identity.

Personal Agency

Personal agency hints to individual's ability to originate and direct actions for given purposes. It is divided into two parts −

  • Self-efficacy
  • Perceived control

Self-efficacy is an individual's belief in his/her effectiveness in performing the tasks assigned as well presenting their actual skill.

Perceived control is an individual's perceived amount of control over behavioral conduct. It is resolved by control beliefs. Say for example, an individual's perception of the degree to which various environmental factors make it easy or difficult to perform a behavior.

Theory X & Theory Y

Our management style is firmly influenced by our beliefs and assumptions about what encourages members of our team, like: If we believe that our team members dislike work, then we tend towards an authoritarian style of management. However, if we assume that employees take pride in doing a good job, we tend to adopt a more participative style.

Douglas McGregor, the eminent social psychologist, divides management style into two contrasting theories −

  • Theory X
  • Theory Y

Theory X

This theory believes that employees are naturally unmotivated and dislike working, and this encourages an authoritarian style of management. According to this theory, management must firmly intervene to get things done. This style of management concludes that workers −

  • Disfavor working.
  • Abstain from responsibility and the need to be directed.
  • Need to be controlled, forced, and warned to deliver what's needed.
  • Demand to be supervised at each and every step, with controls put in place.
  • Require to be attracted to produce results, else they have no ambition or incentive to work.

McGregor observed that X-type workers are in fact mostly in minority, and yet in mass organizations, such as large scale production environment, X Theory management may be needed and can be unavoidable.

Theory Y

This theory explains a participative style of management that is distributive in nature. It concludes that employees are happy to work, are self-motivated and creative, and enjoy working with greater responsibility. It estimates that workers −

  • Take responsibility willingly and are encouraged to fulfill the goals they are given.

  • Explore and accept responsibility and do not need much guidance.

  • Assume work as a natural part of life and solve work issues imaginatively.

In Y-type organizations, people at lower levels are engaged in decision making and have more responsibility.

Comparing Theory X & Theory Y


Theory X considers that people dislike work, they want to avoid it and do not take responsibilities willingly.

In contrast, Theory Y considers that people are self-motivated, and sportingly take responsibilities.

Management Style and Control

In a Theory X-type organization, the management is authoritarian, and centralized control is maintained.

While in Theory Y-type organization, the management style is participative, employees are involved decision making, but the power retains to implement decisions.

Work Organization

Theory X employees are specialized and the same work cycle continues.

In Theory Y, the work tends to be coordinated around wider areas of skill or knowledge. Employees are also motivated to develop expertise and make suggestions and improvements.

Rewards and Appraisals

Theory X organizations work on a ‘carrot and stick’ basis, and performance assessment is part of the overall mechanisms of control and compensation.

Coming to Theory Y organizations, appraisal is regular and crucial, but is usually a separate mechanism from organizational controls. Theory Y organizations provide employees frequent opportunities for promotion.


Theory X management style is widely accepted as inferior to others, however it has its place in large scale production procedure and unskilled production-line work.

Many of the principles of Theory Y are widely accepted by different types of organization that value and motivate active participation.

Theory Y-style management is appropriate to knowledge work and licensed services. Licensed service organizations naturally develop Theory Y-type practices by the nature of their work, even high structure knowledge framework, like call center operations, benefits from its principles to motivate knowledge sharing and continuous improvement.

Personality Traits

A personality trait is a unique feature in an individual. Psychologists resolved that there are five major personality traits and every individual can be categorized into at least one of them. These five personality traits are −

  • Extrovert
  • Neurotic
  • Open
  • Agreeable
  • Conscientious

Locus of Control

Locus of control is the center of control of an individual’s code of conduct. People can be grouped into two categories i.e. internal and externals respectively.

People who consider themselves as the masters of their own fate are known as internals, while those who affirm that their lives are controlled by outside forces are known as externals.

Before making any decision, internals actively search for information, they are achievement driven, and want to command their environment. So, internals do well on jobs that craves complex information processing, demands taking initiative and independent action.

Externals, on the other hand, are more compliant, more willing to follow instructions, so, they do well in structured, routine jobs.


Machiavellianism is being practical, emotionally distant, and believing that ends justify means. Machiavellians are always wanting to win and are great persuaders. Here are the significant features of a high-mach individuals −

  • High-Machs prefer precise interactions rather than beating about the bush.

  • High-Machs tend to improvise; they do not necessarily abide by rules and regulations all the time.

  • High-machs get distracted by emotional details that are irrelevant to the outcome of a project.


It is the extent up to which people either like or dislike themselves. Self-esteem is directly related to the expectations of success and on-the-job satisfaction.

Individuals with high self-esteem think that they have what it takes to succeed. So, they take more challenges while selecting a job.

While individuals with low self-esteem are more susceptible to external distractions. So, they are more likely to seek the approval of others and to adapt the beliefs and behaviors of those they respect.


Self-monitoring is the capability of regulating one’s behavior according to social situations.

Individuals with high self-monitoring skills easily adjust their behavior according to external, situational factors. Their impulsive talents allow them to present public personae which is completely different from their private personalities.

However, people with low self-monitoring skills cannot cover themselves. Regardless of any situation, they are always themselves. They have an attitude of, “what you see is what you get.”

Risk Taking

Generally, managers are reluctant on taking risks. However, individual risk-taking inclination affects the bulk of information required by the managers and how long it takes them to make decisions.

Thus, it is very important to recognize these differences and align risk-taking propensity with precise job demands that can make sense.

Learning & Individual Behavior

Learning can be defined as the activity or process of acquiring knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something.

Individual behavior can be defined as how an individual behaves at work. A person’s behavior is influenced by the following factors −

  • Attitude
  • Perception
  • Personality
  • Stress
  • Belief
  • Norms or other psychological matters

The factors influencing individual behavior are −

  • Perception − It is the result of various senses like feeling, seeing, hearing etc.

  • Attitude − We can either have a positive attitude or negative attitude, like i like my job is expressing a positive attitude towards my work.

  • Personality − For example, some people seem to be very friendly, while there are some who take time to open up.

  • Values − It influences perception of problem and marks individual’s decision making process.

  • Emotions − There are happy moments we cherish and the sad moments like anger, frustration, etc. that we try to forget.

Change through Learning

The more we learn the more we change, as learning is a continuous process. Now let us see that how learning affects individual behavior. There is a change in the attitude of a person due to learning which can take place due to the following factors −

  • Role of parenting − As we all know that parents are the first tutors of a child. They teach a child how to walk, talk, eat, etc. A child tries to imitate the behavior of parents. So, it plays a vital role in grooming an individual’s personality.

  • Education − The very second place of learning is the school and college where an individual chooses to pursue his/her education. It is the place where an individual’s personality is further polished with respect to the parenting values.

  • Job training − An individual is prepared to be presentable in the company and learns organizational traits.

  • Manipulation of rewards

The above seen points are the key elements that are responsible for the change in a person’s behavior.

Learning Theories

Individual and group behavior can be studied by different learning theories. Some of the remarkable theories are −

  • Classical Conditioning Theory
  • Operant Learning Theory
  • Social Learning Theory

Classical Conditioning Theory

The Classical conditioning occurs when a conditioned stimulus is coupled with an unconditioned stimulus.

Usually, the conditioned stimulus (CS) is an impartial stimulus like the sound of a tuning fork, the unconditioned stimulus (US) is biologically effective like the taste of food and the unconditioned response (UR) to the unconditioned stimulus is an unlearned reflex response like salivation or sweating.

After this coupling process is repeated (for example, some learning may already occur after a single coupling), an individual shows a conditioned response (CR) to the conditioned stimulus when the conditioned stimulus is presented alone.

The conditioned response is mostly similar to the unconditioned response, but unlike the unconditioned response, it must be acquired through experience and is nearly impermanent.

Operant Conditioning Theory

Operant conditioning theory is also known as instrumental conditioning. This theory is a learning process in which behavior is sensitive to, or controlled by its outcomes.

Let’s take an example of a child. A child may learn to open a box to get the candy inside, or learn to avoid touching a hot stove. In comparison, the classical conditioning develops a relationship between a stimulus and a behavior. The example can be further elaborated as the child may learn to salivate at the sight of candy, or to tremble at the sight of an angry parent.

In the 20th century, the study of animal learning was commanded by the analysis of these two sorts of learning, and they are still at the core of behavior analysis.

Social Learning Theory

The key assumptions of social learning theory are as follows −

  • Learning is not exactly behavioral, instead it is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context.

  • Learning can occur by observing a behavior and by observing the outcomes of the behavior (known as vicarious reinforcement).

  • Learning includes observation, extraction of information from those observations, and making decisions regarding the performance of the behavior (known as observational learning or modeling). Thus, learning can occur beyond an observable change in behavior.

  • Reinforcement plays an important role in learning but is not completely responsible for learning.

  • The learner is not a passive receiver of information. Understanding, environment, and behavior all mutually influence each other.

This theory hugely relies on the concept of modeling, or learning by observing a behavior. Three types of modeling stimuli can be outlined based on this theory −

  • Live Model − In this model, an actual person is demonstrating the expected behavior. A single person leads the group towards the goal and demonstrates them the correct way to achieve it efficiently. This is done usually by giving the group live examples or by introducing them to the current working scenario as the situation demands.

  • Verbal Instruction − In this model, an individual briefs the desired behavior in detail and directs the group in how to behave, but the person demonstrating is not involved in the process.

  • Symbolic − This occurs by means of the media, It includes movies, television, internet, literature, and radio. Stimuli is optional; it can be either real or fictional characters.

Methods of Shaping Individual Behavior

Till now we discussed about the causes of behavior and factors affecting them. But in this chapter, we are going to study how to shape a person’s behavior. We have five ways of shaping individual behavior with respect to their original conduct −

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Punishment
  • Extinction
  • Schedules of reinforcement

Let us try to understand all these unique methods one at a time.

Positive Reinforcement

It occurs when a desirable event or stimulus is given as an outcome of a behavior and the behavior improves. A positive reinforcer is a stimulus event for which an individual will work in order to achieve it.

For example − A company announces a rewards program in which employees earn prizes depending on the number of items they sold.

Negative Reinforcement

It occurs when an aversive event or when a stimulus is removed or prevented from happening and the rate of a behavior improves. A negative reinforcer is a stimulus event for which an individual will work in order to terminate, to escape from, to postpone its occurrence.

For example − A company has a policy that an employee can have a Saturday off only if he completes the assigned work by Friday.


The creation of some unpleasant conditions to remove an undesirable behavior.

For example − A teenager comes home late and the parents take away the privilege of using the cell phone.


The process of eradicating any type of reinforcement causing any undesirable behavior.

For example − A child who crawls under the table to hide and seek attention, gradually stops doing so when the attention is withdrawn.

Schedules of Reinforcement

The schedules of reinforcement can be of five types − continuous, fixed interval, variable interval, fixed ratio, and variable ratio.


A schedule of reinforcement in which every occurrence of the desired outcome is followed by the one who reinforces. For example − Each time a child puts Rs. 1 in a candy machine and presses the buttons he receives a candy bar.

Fixed interval

Conduct of reinforcement with intervals but sufficient enough to make the expected behavior worth repeating. For example − Working of washing machine.

Variable interval

Conduct of reinforcement with an average of n amount of time. For example − Checking e-mail or popping quizzes. Going fishing—we might catch a fish after 20 minutes

Fixed ratio

Oversight of reinforcement when rewards are spaced at uniform time intervals. For example − Salary.

Variable ratio

Oversight of reinforcement when rewards are spaced at unpredictable time intervals. For example − Commission in sales.

Group Behavior

A group can be defined as two or more interacting and interdependent individuals who come together to achieve particular objectives. A group behavior can be stated as a course of action a group takes as a family. For example − Strike.

Types of Groups

There are two types of groups individuals form. They are formal groups and informal groups. Let us know about these groups.

Formal Groups

These are the type of work groups created by the organization and have designated work assignments and rooted tasks. The behavior of such groups is directed toward achieving organizational goals.

Formal Groups

Formal groups can be further classified into two sub-groups −

  • Command Group − It is a group consisting of individuals who report directly to the manager.

  • Interest Group − It is a group formed by individuals working together to achieve a specific objective.

Informal Groups

These groups are formed with friendships and common interests.

Informal Groups

These can be further classified into two sub-groups −

  • Task group − Those working together to finish a job or task is known as a task group.

  • Friendship group − Those brought together because of their shared interests or common characteristics is known as friendship group.

For example − A group of workers working on a project and reporting to the same manager is considered as command group, while a group of friends chilling out together is considered as an interest group or say members of a club.

Why Do People Join Groups

There is no particular reason answering why individuals join groups. Group helps individuals to feel stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and be more contrary to threats. The following points helps us understand the need of joining a group by individuals.

  • Security mirrors strength in numbers.

  • Status pinpoints a prestige that comes from belonging to a specific group.

    • Inclusion in a group is considered as important as it provides recognition and status.

  • Self-esteem transmits people's feeling of self-worth.

    • Membership can sometimes raise feelings of self-esteem like being accepted into a highly valued group.

  • Affiliation with groups can meet one's social needs.

    • Work groups significantly contribute to meet the need for friendships and social relations.

  • One of the appealing attitudes of groups is that they represent power.

    • What mostly cannot be achieved individually becomes possible with group effort.

  • Power might be aimed to protect themselves from unreasonable demands.

  • Informal groups additionally provide options for individuals to practice power.

  • Finally, people may join a group for goal achievement.

    • Sometimes it takes more than one person to accomplish a particular task.

Group Roles

The concept of roles is applicable to all employees within an organization as well as to their life outside the organization. A role is a set of expected behavior patterns attributed to the one who occupies the position demanded by the social unit.

Individuals play multiple roles at the same time. Employees attempt to understand what kind of behavior is expected from them. An individual when presented by divergent role expectations experiences role conflict.

Group roles are divided into three types −

Task-oriented Roles

Roles allotted to individuals according to their work and eligibility is known as task-oriented roles. Task-oriented roles can broadly divide individuals into six categories initiator, informer, clarifier, summarizer, reality tester and information seekers or providers respectively.

  • Initiator − The one who proposes, suggests, defines.

  • Informer − The one who offers facts, expresses feelings, gives opinions.

  • Clarifier − The one who interprets, defines, clarifies everything.

  • Summarizer − The one who links, restates, concludes, summarizes.

  • Reality Tester − The one who provides critical analysis.

  • Information seekers or providers − The one who gives information and data.

These roles present the work performed by different individual according to their marked designation.

Relationship-oriented Roles

Roles that group individuals according to their efforts made to maintain healthy relationship in the group and achieve the goals are known as relationship-oriented roles. There are five categories of individuals in this category − harmonizer, gate keeper, consensus tester, encourager, and compromiser.

  • Harmonizer − The one who limits tension and reconciles disagreements.

  • Gate Keeper − The one who ensures participation by all.

  • Consensus Tester − The one who analyzes the decision-making process.

  • Encourager − The one who is warm, responsive, active, shows acceptance.

  • Compromiser − The one who admits error and limits conflict.

These roles depict the various roles an individual plays to maintain healthy self as well as group relationships.

Individual Roles

Roles that classify a person according to the measure of individual effort put in the project aimed is known as individual roles. Five types of individuals fall into these roles − aggressor, blocker, dominator, cavalier, and avoidance.

  • Aggressor − The one who devalues others, attacks ideas.

  • Blocker − The one who disagrees and rebels beyond reason.

  • Dominator − The one who insists superiority to manipulate.

  • Cavalier − The one who takes part in a group non-productively.

  • Avoidance − The one who shows special interest to avoid task.

These are the various roles a person plays in an organization.

Well-Functioning Groups

We know what a group is, why it is important to form a group, and what the group-oriented roles are. Now we need to know how to mark a group as a well-functioning group, what features are necessary for a group to mark it as an efficient one.

A group is considered effective when it has the following characteristics −

  • Atmosphere is relaxed, comfortable, and friendly.
  • Task to be executed are well understood and accepted.
  • Members listen well and actively participate in given assignments.
  • Assignments are made clear and are accepted.
  • Group is acquainted of its operation and function.
  • People express their feelings and ideas openly.
  • Consensus decision-making process is followed.
  • Conflict & disagreement center regarding ideas or method.

Group Behavior – Example

Let us understand group behavior with the help of an example.

To work on a specific project, we make a group of four members: Rohit, Raj, Sid, and Rahul. It is not possible for anyone of them to complete the project individually, as it may be time-consuming as well as not all the members as individuals have mastered the skills required to complete the project. This indicates the need to come together as a group.

Moving ahead, now let us specify their roles. Rohit is the initiator as he proposes the idea of the project. Raj collects all the information and resources required for the project and becomes the informer. Sid is the clarifier as he interprets the data and saves refined information, while Rahul is the summarizer as he concludes the result of project stating what is to be achieved by the end of the project. These are the task-oriented roles.

When a group of people come together and present their ideas there is a fair chance of collision. Rohit tries to resolve all the disagreements and disputes in the first place and acts as a harmonizer, Sid makes sure that everybody is giving their full support and effort in the project and acts as a gate keeper, Raj is the one encouraging everyone and motivating them when they fail to try harder to complete the project and is the encourager, and Rahul tests the project at each stage and examines the major decision to be made and is acts as the consensus tester. These are the relationship-oriented roles of each member.

Individually each of them have different tasks to fulfill. Rohit tries to be the group leader and impose his ideas on others and we consider him as the dominator, Rahul is always up with excuses to avoid the task given to him and acts as avoider, Raj is the one who opposes everything but is never up with some new idea and becomes the blocker and Sid takes part in every group activity in a non-productive way and becomes the cavalier.

Five Stage Model of Group Development

A team cannot be expected to perform well right from the time it is formed. Forming a team is just like maintaining a relationship. It takes time, patience, requires support, efforts and members often go through recognizable stages as they change from being a collection of strangers to a united group with common goals.

Bruce Tuckman presented a model of five stages Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing in order to develop as a group.

Orientation (Forming Stage)

The first stage of group development is the forming stage. This stage presents a time where the group is just starting to come together and is described with anxiety and uncertainty.

Members are discreet with their behavior, which is driven by their desire to be accepted by all members of the group. Conflict, controversy, misunderstanding and personal opinions are avoided even though members are starting to form impressions of each other and gain an understanding of what the group will do together.

Typical consequences of the forming stage include achieving an understanding of the group's purpose, determining how the team is going to be organized and who will be responsible for what, discussion of major milestones or phases of the group's goal that includes a rough project schedule, outlining general group rules that includes when they will meet and discovery of what resources will be available for the group to use.

At this stage, group members are learning what to do, how the group is going to operate, what is expected, and what is acceptable.

Power Struggle (Storming Stage)

The second stage of group development is the storming stage. The storming stage is where dispute and competition are at its greatest because now group members have an understanding of the work and a general feel of belongingness towards the group as well as the group members.

This is the stage where the dominating group members emerge, while the less confrontational members stay in their comfort zone.

Questions around leadership, authority, rules, policies, norms, responsibilities, structure, evaluation criteria and reward systems tend to arise during the storming stage. Such questions need to be answered so that the group can move further on to the next stage.

Cooperation and Integration (Norming Stage)

In this stage, the group becomes fun and enjoyable. Group interaction are lot more easier, more cooperative, and productive, with weighed give and take, open communication, bonding, and mutual respect.

If there is a dispute or disruption, it’s comparatively easy to be resolved and the group gets back on track.

Group leadership is very important, but the facilitator can step back a little and let group members take the initiative and move forward together.

Synergy (Performing Stage)

Once a group is clear about its needs, it can move forward to the third stage of group development, the norming stage. This is the time where the group becomes really united.

At this stage, the morale is high as group members actively acknowledge the talents, skills and experience that each member brings to the group. A sense of belongingness is established and the group remains focused on the group's purpose and goal.

Members are flexible, interdependent, and trust each other. Leadership is distributive and members are willing to adapt according to the needs of the group.

Closure (Adjourning Stage)

This stage of a group can be confusing and is usually reached when the task is successfully completed. At this stage, the project is coming to an end and the team members are moving off in different directions.

This stage looks at the team from the perspective of the well-being of the team instead of the perspective of handling a team through the original four stages of team growth.

Group Structure

Group structure is defined as the layout of a group. It is a combination of group roles, norms, conformity, workplace behavior, status, reference groups, status, social loafing, cohorts, group demography and cohesiveness.

  • Group Roles − The different roles a person plays as a part of the group.

  • Norms − The typical standard set by the group collaboratively that every member has to follow.

  • Conformity − The decisions or stand taken by majority in the group.

  • Workplace behavior − The ethics that one needs to follow while working with an organization.

  • Status − The designation of members in the group.

  • Social Loafing − The phenomena where group members put less effort towards achieving a goal than they would have while working alone.

  • Cohorts − Sharing common behavior in the group.

  • Reference Groups − Other groups to which a group is compared to.

  • Group Demography − Extent of sharing same behavior.

  • Cohesiveness − Extent of belongingness towards each other in the group.


Roles are a set of expected behavior patterns associated to someone occupying a given position in a social unit. There are three broad types of roles people play in small groups −

  • Task roles
  • Building and maintenance roles
  • Self-centered roles

Task Roles

Task roles are roles that focus on completing group’s goal. The different task roles of a group are stated below −

  • Coordinator − Links statements made by one group member to another.

    Example − “Gita’s comment relate well to what Ram was saying.”

  • Energizer − Provokes group to take action.

    Example − “How many of you are willing to bring in a video on dispute for the next session?”

  • Elaborator − Extends upon another’s ideas.

    Example − “I think what Niki and Anni are suggesting is that we first explain nonverbally before we turn to verbal communication.”

  • Evaluator-critic − Evaluates the group’s work against higher standards.

    Example − “This is okay, but I think Shree needs to give more feedback.”

  • Information-giver − Gives helpful information.

    Example − “Rohit has some books about conflict we could use.”

  • Information-seeker − Questions for clarification.

    Example − “Richa or Trishala, could you please tell me what you said about disconfirming responses?”

  • Recorder − Keeps notes regarding the meeting.

    Example − “Last session we did not get to A-P’s presentation. Rahul and Rohit had just finished theirs.”

  • Procedural Technician − Takes accountability for tasks.

    Example − “I checked out the VCR for Nigaar and Neha’s presentations.”

Group-Building / Maintenance Roles

It focuses on building interpersonal relationships and maintaining harmony. The various maintenance roles in a group are −

  • Encourager − Gives positive feedback.

    Example − “I think what Shyam was saying was totally right.”

  • Follower − Obtains ideas of others in the group.

    Example − “Let’s follow Adi’s plan—he had the right idea.”

  • Compromiser − Attempts to reach a solution acceptable by everyone.

    Example − “Pratik, Sid, and Nimmi have offered three great solutions. Why don’t we integrate them?”

  • Gatekeeper − Assists participation from everyone in the group.

    Example − “I don’t think we’ve heard from Madhuri yet.”

  • Harmonizer − Limits conflict and tension.

    Example − “After that test, we deserve a free meal!”

  • Observer − Examines group progress.

    Example − “I think we’ve learned a lot so far. Monica and Mona gave us great information.”

Self-centered Roles

These roles aim to impede or disrupt the group from reaching its goals. The various self-centered roles in a group are as follows −

  • Aggressor − Acts aggressively towards other group members and their ideas.

    Example − “Playing desert survival is the greatest idea I’ve ever heard.”

  • Dominator − Dominates group speaking time.

    Example − Interrupting—“I’m going to tell you seven reasons why this is a great idea.”

  • Blocker − Refuses to collaborate with other’s ideas.

    Example − “I refuse to play Family Swap.”

  • Help-Seeker − Acts helpless to neglect work.

    Example − “I don’t think I can put together a summary. Why don’t you do it for me?”

  • Loafer − Refrains from work.

    Example − “Why don’t we just go have coffee instead of finishing this project?”

  • Special Interest Advocate − Presents own viewpoint and requirements.

    Example − “I can’t meet today. I need to sleep early and call my mom.”

  • Self-confessor − Talks about the topics important to self and not the group.

    Example − “I really like tea. Yesterday I went to CCD. Their coffee is better than what you get elsewhere . . .”


Norms are the acceptable standards of behavior within a group that are shared by the group members. Every group develops its own customs, values, habits and expectations for how things need to be done.

These patterns and expectations, or group norms as they're called sometimes, direct the ways team members interact with each other.

Norms can help or block a group in achieving its goals.

Types of Norms

There are four different types of norms that exist in a group −

  • Performance norms
  • Appearance Norms
  • Social arrangement norms
  • Resource allocation norms

Performance Norms

These are centered on how hard a person should work in a given group. They are informal clues that help a person understand how hard they should work and what type of output they should give.

For example − Team leader puts various posters in the firm to motivate employees to work efficiently and give their best performance.

Appearance Norms

Appearance norms updates or guides us as to how we should look or what our physical appearance should be, like what fashion we should wear or how we should style our hair or any number of areas related to how we should look.

For example − There is a formal dress code we need to follow while working in a organization, we cannot wear a wedding gown to a board meeting.

Social Arrangement Norms

This norm is basically centered on how we should behave in social settings. Again here, there are clues we need to pick up on when we are out with friends or at social events that help us fit in and get a closer connection to the group.

For Example − We cannot take our official work to a friend’s birthday party just for the sake of completing it.

Resource Allocation Norms

This norm focusses on the allocation of resources in a business surrounding. This may include raw materials as well as working overtime or any other resource found or needed within an organization.

For Example − If the client needs the project by tomorrow then anyhow it has to be completed by using available resources or doing over time.


Conformity can be stated as “accommodating to group pressures”. It is also called as the majority influence or we can say the group pressure.

It is widely used to indicate an agreement to the majority position, brought about either by a desire to fit-in or be liked or because of a desire to be correct, or simply to conform to a social role.

Types of Social Conformity

Three types of conformity can be identified −

  • Normative Conformity
  • Informational Conformity
  • Ingratiational Conformity

Normative Conformity

Yielding to group pressure because an individual wants to fit in with the group. Conforming usually takes place because the individual is scared of being rejected or neglected by the group.

This type of conformity usually includes compliance like where a person publicly accepts the views of a group but privately rejects them.

Informational Conformity

This usually happens when a person lacks knowledge and looks to the group for guidance. Or when a person is not clear about a situation and socially compares one’s behavior with the group.

This type of conformity includes internalization like where a person accepts the views of the groups and adopts them as an individual.

Ingratiational Conformity

Where a person conforms to gain a favor or acceptance from other people. It is relative to normative influence but is encouraged by the need for social rewards rather than the threat of being rejected.

In other words, group pressure is not always the reason to conform.

Harvard psychologist, Herbert Kelman, identified three different types of conformity −

  • Compliance − Socially changing behavior in order to fit in with the group while disagreeing privately. In simple words, conforming to the mass, in spite of not really agreeing with them.

  • Internalization − Socially changing behavior to fit in with the group and also agreeing with them privately.

  • Identification − Agreeing to the expectations of a social role. It is similar to compliance, but there is no change in private opinion.

Reference Groups

It is a group to which a person or another group is compared. Reference groups are used in order to examine and determine the nature of a person or other group's features and sociological attributes.

It is the group to which a person relates or aspires to link himself or herself psychologically. It becomes the individual's frame of reference and source to derive his or her experiences, perceptions, needs, and ideas of self.

These groups act as a benchmark and contrast needed for comparison and evaluation of group and personal characteristics.


Status is a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others. A group structure status includes group norms, culture, status equity. All these factors when combined presents the status of members of the group.

Social Loafing

It is the phenomenon of people exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work as a group than when they work alone.

This is one of the main reasons why groups are sometimes less productive than the combined performance of their members working as individuals, but should be recognized from the accidental coordination problems that groups sometimes experience.

Many of the causes of social loafing arise from an individual feeling that his or her effort will not matter to the group.

Cohorts & Group Demography

Individuals who, as a part of a group, share a common attribute are known as cohorts. Group demography is the level to which a member of a group can share a common demographic attribute with his fellow team members. Group demography is a successful ploy in increasing the efficiency of a team in the long run.

For Example − Age, sex, religion, region, length of the service in the organization and the impact of this attribute on turnover.


Extent to which group members are attracted towards each other, and are encouraged to stay in the group. Group cohesion is the aggregate of all the factors causing members of a group to stay in the group or be attracted to the group. Group cohesion acts as the social glue that binds a group together. Some people think that work teams illustrating strong group cohesion will function and perform better in achieving work goals.

Group cohesion is not attributed to one single factor, but is the interaction of more than one factor. While group cohesion may have an impact on group performance, group performance may create or increase group cohesion. Thus, group cohesion can actually have a negative impact on group task performance.

The most influential factor that creates a positive relationship between group cohesion and group performance is the group members' commitment towards the organization's performance goals and norms.

Deviant Workplace Behavior

Workplace deviance can take the form of bitterness towards co-workers. Organizations usually strive to create an atmosphere of conformity and teamwork to achieve maximum productivity and create a healthy corporate culture.

In organizations of any size, deviant behavior can occur, which can sabotage the work. There are usually two types of deviant behavior −

Aggressive Behavior

Workplace deviance can sometimes take the form of aggressive behavior. In diverse work environments, deviance may occur when workers display intolerance of co-workers of different nationalities or cultures.

Some common examples include: sexual harassment, bullying and showing open hostility towards co-workers.

Unproductive Behavior

Actions that disrupt or minimize productivity are also a form of workplace deviance. Common examples of this type of deviant behavior include: Workers who waste their time by standing around the water cooler, taking the "scenic route" while making sales calls or extending the time it takes to complete a task that slows down productivity.

Some other examples include showing up late for work, calling in sick when in perfect health, sneaking out early or taking long lunch or coffee breaks.

Some other types of deviant behavior include the following −

Abuse of Property

It includes using company vehicles for personal errands, damaging company equipment or defacing work areas, taking home office supplies or failing to return items borrowed from the company and many more.

Company Politics

This occurs in many workplaces and is considered as a part of workplace deviance. A worker may spread false rumors or gossip about another in an effort to gain promotion or more favorable work assignment.

Supervisors who are partial towards one employee over another or prevent deserving employees from career advancement are also guilty of committing a deviant act.

Employees who are actively engaged in gossip sessions can have a negative impact on employee morale.

Group Decision-Making

Group decision-making commonly known as collaborative decision-making is a situation faced when individuals collectively make a choice from the alternatives before them.

The decision is then no longer attributable to any individual group member as all the individuals and social group processes like social influence contribute to the decision outcome.

The decisions made by groups are mostly different from those made by individuals. For example − groups tend to make decisions that are more extreme than those made by individual members, as individual’s tend to be biased.

Advantages of Group Decision-Making

Group decision-making has two advantages over individual decision-making.


It is the idea that the whole is greater than the aggregate of its parts. When a group makes a decision collectively, its judgment can be powerful than that of any of its members. Through discussing, questioning, and collaborative approach, group members can identify more complete and robust solutions and recommendations.

Sharing of Information

Group decisions take into account a wider scope of information as each group member may contribute distinct information and expertise. Sharing information increases understanding, clarifies issues, and facilitates movement towards a collective decision.

Disadvantages of Group Decision-Making

The major disadvantages of group decision-making are as follows −

Diffusion of Responsibility

Group decision making results in distribution of responsibility that results in lack of accountability for outcomes. In this way, everyone is responsible for a decision, and no one really is.

Moreover, group decisions can make it easier for members to refuse personal responsibilities and blame others for bad decisions.

Lower Efficiency

Group decisions can sometimes be less efficient than individual decisions. It takes additional time because there is a need of active participation, discussion, and coordination among group members.

Without good facilitation and structure, meetings can get eliminated in trivial details that may matter a lot to one person but not to the others.


One of the biggest disadvantage of effective group decision making is groupthink. It is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the wish for harmony or conformity results in an illogical or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

By refraining themselves from outside influences and actively suppressing opposing viewpoints in the interest of minimizing conflict, group members reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of substitute viewpoints.

Groupthink sometimes produces dehumanizing actions against the out-group.

GroupThink & GroupShift

There is a major difference between group discussion, group decision making, groupthink and groupshift. In order to maintain a well-functioning group, one should encourage group discussions and collaborative decision making but in the same place should try to eliminate groupthink and groupshift.

It sounds a bit confusing now but by the end of this chapter we will get a clear idea about these two topics.


Sometimes we feel like speaking up in a meeting, classroom, or informal group, but decide against it. Why?

Mainly due to shyness, or we may have been victim of groupthink. The phenomenon that arises when group members become so enamored of seeking concurrence that the norm for consensus alters the realistic appraisal of substitute courses of action and the full expression of deviant, minority or unpopular views.

It worsens an individual’s mental efficiency, reality, testing, and moral judgment due to group pressure.

The symptoms of the groupthink phenomena are −

  • Group members justify any resistance to the assumptions they have made. No matter how firmly the evidence contradicts their basic assumptions, members behave in way so as to reinforce those assumptions continually.

  • Members apply direct pressure on those who briefly present their doubts about any of the views shared by the group or the one who question’s the validity of arguments supporting the substitute favored by the majority.

  • Members reserving doubt or holding contradicting viewpoints seek to avoid deviation from what appears to be group consensus, by maintaining silence about misgivings and minimizing the importance of their doubts to themselves.

  • An illusion of unanimity appears in the picture. If someone doesn’t speak, it is assumed that he or she is in favor. In other words, silence becomes viewed as a ‘Yes’ vote.


In balancing group decisions with the individual decisions of members within the group, evidence hints that there are differences. In some cases, the group decisions are more timid than the individual decisions. More often, the shift is close to greater risk.

What appears to happen in groups is that the discussion results in a significant shift in a position of members towards a more extreme position in the direction in which they were already leaning before the discussion.

So conservative types become more cautious and the more intrusive types take on more risk. The group discussion tends to fabricate the initial position of the group.

Group shift is the phenomena in which individual decisions make way for exaggerated group decisions. Group shift can be seen as a special case of groupthink.

The decision of the group shows the dominant decision-making norm that is developed during the group’s discussion. Whether the shift in the group’s decision is towards greater deliberation or more risk depends on the dominant pre-discussion norm.

The greater episode of the shift towards risk has generated several explanations for the phenomenon. It has been argued, for instance, that the discussion creates familiarization between members. As they become more comfortable with each other, they also become more bold, confident and daring.

Group decisions free any single individual from accountability for the group’s final choice. Greater risk can be taken as even if the decision fails, no single individual can be held wholly responsible.

Techniques to Eliminate Groupthink & Groupshift

In order to eliminate group think and group shift from a group, we can use four different techniques that will help us make a collaborative decision that is best for the group. These techniques are −

  • Brainstorming
  • Nominal group thinking
  • Didactic technique
  • Delphi technique


This technique includes a group of people, mostly between five and ten in number, sitting around a table, producing ideas in the form of free association. The main focus is on generation of ideas and not on evaluation of these ideas.

If more ideas can be originated, then it is likely that there will be a unique and creative idea among them. All these ideas are written on the blackboard with a piece of chalk so that all the team members can see every idea and try to improvise these ideas.

Brainstorming technique is very effective when the problem is comparatively precise and can be simply defined. A complex problem can be divided into parts and each part can be dealt with separately at a time.

Nominal Group Thinking

This technique is similar to brainstorming except that this approach is more structured. It motivates individual creativity.

Members form the group for namesake and operate independently, originate ideas for solving the problem on their own, in silence and in writing. Members do not communicate well with each other so that strong personality domination is evaded.

The group coordinator either collects the written ideas or writes them on a large blackboard so that each member of the group can see what the ideas are.

These ideas are further discussed one by one in turn and each participant is motivated to comment on these ideas in order to clarify and improve them. After all these ideas have been discussed, they are evaluated for their merits and drawbacks and each actively participating member is needed to vote on each idea and allot it a rank on the basis of priority of each alternative solution.

The idea with the highest cumulative ranking is selected as the final solution to the problem.

Didactic Interaction

This technique is applicable only in certain situations, but is an excellent method when a situation actually demands it.

The type of problem should be such that it generates output in the form of yes or no. Say for example, a decision is to be made whether to buy or not to buy a product, to merge or not to merge, to expand or not to expand and so on. These types of decision requires an extensive and exhaustive discussion and investigation since a wrong decision can have serious consequences.

There are many advantages as well as disadvantages of this type of situation. The group that makes the decision is divided into two sub-groups, one in favor of the “go” decision and the opposing in favor of the “no go” decision.

The first group enlists all the “pros” of the problem solution and the second group lists all the “cons”. These groups meet and discuss their discoveries and their reasons.

After tiring discussions, the groups switch sides and try to find weaknesses in their own original standpoints. This interchange of ideas and understanding of various viewpoints results in mutual acceptance of the facts as they exist so that a solution can be put together around these facts and ultimately a final decision is reached.

Delphi Technique

This technique is the improvised version of the nominal group technique, except that it involves obtaining the opinions of experts physically distant from each other and unknown to each other.

This isolates group members from the undue influence of others. Basically, the types of problems sorted by this technique are not specific in nature or related to a particular situation at a given time.

Say for example, the technique could be used to explain the problems that could be created in the event of a war. The Delphi technique includes the following steps −

  • The problem is first identified and a panel of experts are selected. These experts are asked to provide potential solutions through a series of thoughtfully designed questionnaires.

  • Each expert concludes and returns the initial questionnaire.

  • The results of the questionnaire are composed at a central location and the central coordinator prepares a second set of questionnaire based on the previous answers.

  • Each member receives a copy of the results accompanied by the second questionnaire.

  • Members are required to review the results and respond to the second questionnaire. The results typically trigger new solutions or motivate changes in the original ideas.

  • The process is repeated until a general agreement is obtained.