The following points highlight the three important features that attract people to join a group. The features are: 1. Attraction to the Activities or Goals of the Group 2. Liking for Group Members 3. Need for a Group Membership Per se.
Feature # 1. Attraction to the Activities or Goals of the Group:
Certain activities and goals can only be achieved in a group such as the working groups which are formed to complete a task more efficiently and quickly through a pooling of resources and efforts.
Let us take the example of preparation of annual budget of the state within a very short span of a few days, preparation for marriage ceremony with seven days, submitting reply to an adjournment motion within 2-3 hours. In such cases a task force is constituted for completing the task quickly and efficiently.
Problem solving groups, legislation groups and self help groups are some of the examples in which the group members attempt to improve themselves along some dimension. Group more often than not reoresent a therapeutic tool where the members can speak out their personal problems, frustrations, disappointments, successes and failures and get mental satisfaction by “Speaking out”.
In the opinion of Kurt Lewin (1951) groups provide an effective means of learning new skills.
These positive changes brought in the participants of the group bring a therapeutic change which ultimately solves some of his personal problems. It also increases in the ability to experience and express emotions or simply intellectual growth and understanding.
Best examples of how group goals can influence group formations come from a classic study held in a Boys Summer Camp named Robbers Cave. This study illustrates the importance of the goals of a group in explaining the question why somebody joins a group. Interpersonal attraction develops when similarity of attitudes and personality are perceived. Some also view that negative qualities also attract.
Winch (1958) argues the principle of complementarity explains attraction, like dominant husband and submissive wife may attract each other. If both become dominant or both become submissive the work cannot be managed. However, usually similarity is the more significant determinant of attraction.
Feature # 2. Liking for Group Members:
When some people find the members of an already existing group to be very acceptable and interpersonally attractive, cooperative and dynamic having some common personal traits, they join such a group independent of the goals and activities of the said group.
Cart Wright and Zander (1968) hold that groups formed basically on the basis of interpersonal attraction towards the group members are frequently formed spontaneously. Due to inadvertent social interaction, social clubs, street gangs and some such small and informal groups usually develop. Once formulated gradually members get, engaged in more formal sorts of sustained activities.
Feature # 3. Need for a Group Membership Per se:
This is otherwise known as need for affiliation. People sometimes become a member of a psychological or informal group with the hope that group membership can meet social and emotional needs of the members. The perceived sharing stress contributes immensely to stress tolerance.
Festinger (1954) is of opinion that people have a need for social comparison and will like to have some other persons to compare their abilities with them, particularly when they are clearly aware of their own abilities, merits and weaknesses.
Thus membership in groups can provide the necessary pool of people against whom an individual could evaluate his or her abilities and qualities. Researchers like Schactiter (1959) hold that groups may directly need for affiliation. His experiments show that the motive for affiliation during anxiety state is definitely influenced by the knowledge that others share a similar fate.
For a number of social and non social reasons, a person wants to remain in a group. By examining the reaction of others, he can evaluate his own reaction and determine whether his fear or anxiety and tension is appropriate. This may reduce his anxiety, feeling of uncertainty, fear and insecurity.
The individual member of the group also wants to be reassured by others. Wrightman (I960) conducted the experiment with subjects who expected to be given painful injections. The results indicated that affiliation produced a general reduction in subject’s self rating of fear for injection.