For this paper I decided to sit with a group that I know, but I choose to stay away from because I did not want to be part of that “mold” According to Myers, an group is “two or more people who interact with and influence each other” (Myers, 2010). However, the scopes of a group spread further. Behaviors within the group affect the other and, events within the group affect all members, and behaviors affect the success of the group. I picked the Surface Navy Association because the group dynamics within the organization displayed unity, and I also saw people conforming to what they felt was the norm. This type of group shows a heavy degree of social influence. Which occurs when an we interact with other people or group. The impacts of this interaction may be positive or negative on the individual.
Hawaii branch of the SNA is located in Honolulu, Hawaii. This organization is comprised of the local military members enlisted and officer. The organization is comprised of approximately 1500 members; made up of retired and active military US Navy and other braches of the military that hold and interest in the Surface Military. SNA was incorporated in 1985 “ to promote greater coordination and communication among those in the military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in Naval Surface Warfare and to support the activities of Surface Naval Forces” (Surface Navy Association, 2014). Meetings for the association are held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Hale Koa hotel. They hold their meetings in a conference room, but the setting is very laid back and open.
Seating for members is not fixed; he or she is free to sit in any available seat. SNA is very diverse in the ages of members, which range from 21 to 70 years of age. Members are primarily male; a small percentage is female, and ethnicity of this group range from Caucasian, Asian, Hawaiian, African American and many others. However, there is a hierarchy within this association. There are officers, which consist of an president, vice president, secretary, treasurer. The highest attending officer usually the president or vice president facilitates the meeting. The meeting starts off with a conversation of anything that is happening that will affect the military then moves to a pre-set agenda. The agenda consists of the minutes of the last meeting being read, the president’s report, the treasurer report, and the awards report. The other members are allowed to comment and communicate about the information being stated during these reports however they are not allowed to mention any new information.
Once these reports have been read and discussed, the other members of the group have an opportunity to discuss issues or concerns they have with any topic or how they choose a winner for a certain award. Primary topics discussed in the meeting were the previous month’s SITREPS (military or SNA news), upcoming events, and membership issues. The members of the group exchanged information based on previous situations as related to current situations, and they give advice and criticisms for the previous month’s activities or lack there of activities. Members were open to information exchange and did not take any criticism in a negative manner. Communication was open so that all members could communicate with one another. All members had the opportunity to exchange comments or concerns about any of the topics covered.
Psychologist Irving Janis coined the term groupthink, the term relates to the group’s desire for conformity and its decision making process. Groups that use groupthink are more concerned with the conformity of the group that the members may make incorrect decisions in order to preserve the harmony. Janis had three requirements he believed that groupthink would need in order to be developed. These requirements were that the group was cohesive, the group was isolated from dissenting views, and the group had a leader who signaled the decision they favored (Myers, 2010). Surface Navy Association did meet of these requirements, and I almost felt bad that it took a school assignment in order to see what this group was really about.
While the group did seem to be mainly a united group, there were times of disagreement but they were settled quickly. This dissension was met in a positive way to help the members learn and grow. The group did make decisions that benefited not only the group as a whole but benefited the members as individuals and the community. Based on the definition of groupthink, SNA was vulnerable to it, but at the same time the group was concerned with making informed decisions than to keep harmony within the group.
Conformity is when changing or adopting behaviors or attitudes are consistent with the social norms of a group (Wood, Wood, & Boyd, 2011). Surface Navy Association has social norms, or standards of behavior expected of its members. These norms include behavior while representing this organization and also any military unit they are with as well as behavior in general while out in town because members of this association for the most part are well known within the military. These standards include basic behaviors such as refraining from criminal activity and moral behaviors. While most members adhere to these standards in his or her everyday life in general, all members are expected to conform to the standards. There are punishments for the members who do not conform to these standards. These punishments include rejection of membership and even them reporting any behavior to their commands.
The affect of a group may have a significant influence on an individual. However, studies have revealed that social interaction can intensify individual emotions (Barsade & Gibson, 2012). These social interactions can affect both the person and the group outcomes. Social facilitation is an important quality of the group experience. Social facilitation is the positive or negative effect on an individual’s performance attributed to the presence of others (Wood, Wood, & Boyd, 2011). SNA group gives it members a sense of filament and gives them a chance to give back to people still in the military and to also share what they have been though to people that are thinking about joining the military and also to help give insight to what military personnel go though.
The members within this group understand the importance of the tasks they must perform in order to show what good military personnel can do. Due to this understanding, the members work together as a team rather than as individuals. The member of this group are unified and appears to be as close as family, and members are together in this group show their desire to help others in the military community.
In the end groups are part of everyone’s life no matter how much you try to avoid them someway you once or are part of a group. Groups help to assist us in various different tasks and situations throughout our lives. Groups have their own standards, rules, and organization, and can have a negative or positive impact on your life. The Surface Navy Association strives to have a positive impact on all people both members and citizens. This organization helps to save lives by providing an outlet for retire and active duty military people to have people to talk to that understand and also achievements they are recognized for. The members have learned to work together to achieve the goals of the group, and they have conformed to the standards set forth in order to maintain membership and have become a unified group because of the efforts of the members.
Barsade, S. G., & Gibson, D. E. (2012). Group affect: Its influence on individual and group outcomes. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(2), 119-123.
Myers, D. (2010). Social Psychology (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Surface Navy Association (2014). SNA Website. Retrieved from: http://www.navysna.org/default.htm
Wood, S. E., Wood, E. G., & Boyd, D. (2011). The world of psychology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.