Intergroup behaviour

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to:


  • describe a group and the way that groups can be structured


  • list the stages of group formation


  • describe theories behind the ways in which we align ourselves to certain groups, both consciously and unconsciously


  • apply your understanding of how we balance ‘fitting in’ and identifying as a true group member whilst also retaining individuality


  • describe the identified factors that hold a group together. This will include exploring concepts such as interdependence and conformity, along with others such as deindividuation and ‘groupthink’.


  • discuss Yalom’s therapeutic factors and Bion’s basic assumptions


  • confidently describe in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination


  • explain stereotyping and its link to prejudice and discrimination


  • describe positive intergroup relations as well as negative


  • describe distrust of the out-group and reference theories underlying why this may be so, such as realistic conflict theory and relative deprivation theory


  • distinguish between intra- and intergroup conflict


  • suggest informed ways to resolve conflict in and between groups.


Module introduction

This module aims to help you understand the complex ways in which we behave in groups. We are all members of a group of some sort, whether it be our family, our colleagues, other members of our faith, or just a collection of people with whom – for whatever reason and for however brief a time – we align ourselves to. In this module we will explore the reasons that groups come together and are held together, and what can split them apart.


We will start by looking at what makes a group; the definition of a group and the importance of its members: individual people who have come together to make something that is more than the sum of its parts.


We will then go on to look at how we operate within our groups, as well as the relationship between groups (intergroup dynamics). This leads us to our final learning section on 'intergroup conflict', which explores the ways in which different groups can clash with each other and why this occurs.


It is hoped that by the end of the module you will have learnt about what draws us to groups, and some of the dynamics within, and between groups. As Foulkes (the founder of group analysis) identified, the individual is social through and through and can never be completely without social or group ties (Foulkes, 1948).


The completion of this module may leave you contemplating the groups you identify with, and perhaps able to make more sense of some of the feelings or struggles you may have encountered as a group member.


Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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