Cohesiveness Groups

Cohesiveness Groups whose members share similar attitudes and closely follow the groups’ norms are more likely than other groups to be cohesive. Group cohesiveness refers to the forces exerted on a group that push its members closer together. Members of cohesive groups tend to feel commitment to the group task, feel positively toward the other group members, feel group pride, and engage in many—and often intense—interactions in the group.

An interesting question is whether cohesiveness makes groups perform better. It may seem obvious that it should. Indeed, groups often strive to achieve cohesiveness, and they may take steps to enhance it—such as ordering every- one to go through bonding exercises or hang out together at a rustic retreat. In fact, however, the relationship between cohesiveness and performance is not a simple one. The causal relationship works both ways: On the one hand, when a group is cohesive, group performance often improves; on the other hand, when a group performs well, it often becomes more cohesive. Many team ath- letes recognize that winning creates team chemistry even more than team chem- istry creates winning.

Whatever the cause and effect, several longitudinal studies and meta- analyses of hundreds of studies have provided evidence showing that group cohe- sion is associated with better performance. Other variables tend to be important in predicting when and to what extent this relationship emerges, however, such as how large the group is, whether the cohesiveness is primarily about the group’s attraction to the task (task cohesion) or to each other (interpersonal cohesion), and what type of task the group performs. As we will see a bit later in the chapter, group cohesiveness can also lead to conformity and narrow-mindedness that can cause major problems for groups.

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