Interaction in small groups

A small group is a small group of people engaged in direct interaction. Traditionally, a small group is an object of study mainly in social psychology and sociology, but in reality it is the environment in which the life of every individual is taking place, which means that its personality develops and forms. Therefore, the various features and parameters of the functioning of small groups are directly related to any study of personality. Usually small groups of two to three to dozens of people (usually indicated by experts the upper limit of the number does not exceed 40 people): this is the family, and the workforce, and the training group. A small group can be temporary (for example, neighbors in a hospital ward) or stable (a group of doctors in the same hospital department), voluntarily (a club for interests) or forced (detachment in a penal colony) organized, formal (department at the enterprise) or informal friendly company), etc. Dedicated, described and actively studied features of a small group constitute a very solid list. From the point of view of differential psychology and psychodiagnostics, the psychological structure of a small group, relations and communication in it are of special interest.


Under sociometry, the author of this term Jacob (Jacob) Moreno understands the measurement of social relations and sees it as a separate scientific approach that overcomes the shortcomings of sociology and, in part, psychology, as an independent theory and social science. Moreno himself did not seek to objectivize the method, but viewed it as part of a complex process that combines objective and subjective approaches, which is an integral part of the practical work system that combines research and therapeutic assistance. However, in modern literature, sociometry has traditionally been used in a narrower context - as a designation of the method developed by Moreno for measuring relationships in a group, as a way of analyzing the group structure and position of the individual in the group.

The sociometric procedure is an act of selection by some members of the group of its other members, provoked by the researcher (through a specially organized poll). a demonstration of preferences in choosing a partner for joint activities on the principle of sympathy - dislike, dislike-dislike. On the basis of such elections, made by the members of the group, it is possible to represent the group hierarchy. It is important that the data received is not an answer to the question of the relationship in the group, but a demonstration of the desire or unwillingness to participate in joint activities.

The sociometric method is implemented in a mass of concrete techniques, the device of which is determined by the goals and objectives of the researchers. Often, these techniques are significantly different from each other, which makes it difficult to classify sociometrics within a common set of diagnostic approaches and tools. Most of the procedures developed are, by their nature, closest to personal questionnaires, but since the sociometric method is always implemented in relation to a specific group with its real structure and connections, a full standardization is impossible here, which makes the sociometry closely related to the little-formalized methods.

There is a relatively uniform procedure for the preparation, conduct and processing of the sociometric study of the group. A number of general requirements and stages are singled out.

At the stage of preparation, a problem is posed, the object and subject of the study are described, and the characteristics of the group are studied. It is advisable to interact with the group before conducting the survey procedure itself. It is also important to bear in mind that not for all groups of sociometric method is equally good. For example, insufficient experience of the group in joint activities may become a serious obstacle: following the results of sociometry, the researcher in this situation risks obtaining a random structure. It is not recommended to survey too large teams - this reduces the quality of the information received.

An important preliminary step is the definition of sociometric criteria, i.e. those interaction situations, which will be asked questions to members of the group to obtain sociometric information, in respect of which the subjects will make a choice. Criteria depend primarily on the research objectives and the specifics of the group. For example, in one case the criterion can be formulated as a question of who the subject would prefer to spend his free time with, in another - with whom he would like to solve production problems, etc. Criteria are usually divided into strong and weak: the more important the activity, the more prolonged and intimate communication it involves, the stronger the criterion of choice. Also, the criteria are positive and negative (in the second case, it is about choosing someone from the group as unwanted business partners).

Another point in preparing the survey is the decision on the form of the procedure: it can be parametric or nonparametric. With a non-parametric procedure, the subject is not limited in the number of elections. This form allows you to further determine the emotional expansivity of a member of the group - the degree of diversity of interpersonal relationships, but at the same time creates the risk of the same attitude towards all participants in the group. The first option, i.e. parametric procedure, assumes that the number of possible choices is given in advance (this is called sociometric restriction), and the subject can choose a strictly fixed number of members of the group. The downside of this form is that it is impossible to disclose the variety of relationships in a group. On the other hand, parametric sociometry gives more reliable data and significantly reduces the probability of random responses. The ways of calculating sociometric restrictions for groups of different numbers have been developed, and there are tables of recommended values.

To conduct the procedure itself, a so-called sociometric card is often drawn up, which is filled in by each participant of the group (or by the researcher, if the interview is conducted orally). Its appearance depends on the number of members of the team and the selected procedure. For small groups, the list of members can be included directly in the card by rows, and the columns specify situations in which each member of the group can be selected. For more numerous groups, the list is usually compiled separately. The card contains sociometric criteria-questions and zero for affixing elections. If the form of the procedure is parametric, the corresponding number of graphs or rows is left in the card to enter the names of the selected members of the group. If nonparametric sociometry is conducted, the card contains graphs of sufficient size. In the card, an election scale can be presented with instructions to the subject to indicate the order of preference of partners or to enter them under the appropriate numbers.

During the procedure, each member of the group must be able to make all the elections independently, without falling under the influence of the rest or without fear that his results will become known to the rest.

The results are processed quantitatively and graphically, by constructing a sociogram. Sociogram - a visual map of the group, which indicates sociometric elections. It usually reveals the structure of interpersonal relationships within the group. The leader and other influential individuals are first sought, then the subgroups-groups and their connections (characterizing the psychological climate of the group), isolated and rejected members of the group. If the size of the group is large, the sociogram is no longer a convenient way of presenting the results, it becomes difficult to read.

The quantitative processing involves building a table called "Sotsiomatrix", where you can track the choices made by the members of the group by rows, and by the columns - the cases when the same people act as the objects of choice. The presence of such a matrix allows us to calculate sociometric indices - individual and group.

The main individual indicator is the index of the sociometric status, which is the greater, the more elections an individual has received in his group. The status reflects the person's potential leadership ability and places him in different ranks ("star", "accepted", "preferred", "rejected", "isolated"). The status may be, depending on the nature of the election, positive or negative.

At the group level, the main sociometric indicator is the index of group cohesion, reflecting the degree of interconnectedness of the members of the group as a whole. In addition, the group can be estimated quantitatively as having more or less strong bonds, more or less active, etc.

The indisputable plus of sociometry as a method of research and diagnosis is that it allows to penetrate into the structure, into the system of interpersonal relationships in the group, and, unlike the questionnaires, sociometry does not ask the subjects to broadcast their generalized attitudes, but puts them in a situation realistic choice. Therefore, the results of sociometrics, while observing the basic rules, will be relevant and reliable. But at the same time, sociometry does not allow us to predict the behavior of people in a group, since it can significantly differ from the existing structure of emotional or business ties, from the expressed relationship. In addition, sociometry can not completely get rid of subjectivity.

In sociological research and practical work, sociometry has been used for more than 50 years.

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