PS421      Half Unit
Issues in Social Psychology: Group Dynamics

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Neela Muhlemann, KSW.5.11



This course is available on the MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social Research Methods, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students on degrees without a psychology component may attend subject to numbers, their own degree regulations and at the discretion of the Teacher responsible.


Students who come to this course without any background in social psychology are expected to familiarise themselves with the relevant literature. To this end, we strongly suggest that those students read the following books:

Hogg, MA & Vaughan, G. (eds) (2014). Social Psychology. 7th edition. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Brown, R. (2000). Group processes: Dynamics within and between groups. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher.

Course content

Group dynamics and interpersonal skills are an essential element in any successful organisation (in the broadest sense) and often provide a 'competitive advantage' in managing organisations of all sorts. Group dynamics directly affect the ability to think, learn and innovate together.

This course provides students with a critical understanding of different theories and practises associated with group dynamics. The objectives of the course are two-fold:

1) To introduce past and present theories of group dynamics by introducing concepts used by psychologists to understand and improve group behaviour

2) To apply and critically evaluate how group dynamic theories help us to explain and predict real-life experience.


Topics that will be covered include: 1) Origins of group dynamics 2) Influence and Power 3) Crowds and collective behaviour 4) Group dynamics and the Internet 5) Intra- and intergroup dynamics 6) Diversity in groups 7) Workgroups in temporary and fragmented contexts 8) Group performance and decision-making 9) The importance of groups for health


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

Indicative reading

Haslam, S.A., (2004). Psychology in Organiszations. A Social Identity Approach. London: Sage. Tajfel, H. & Turner, J. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In Austin, & Worchel. The social psychology of intergroup relations, Monterey: Brooks/Cole; pp 33-47. Martins, L. L., Gilson, L. L., & Maynard, M. T. (2004). Virtual teams: What do we know and where do we go from here? Journal of Management, 30, 805-835. Burnes B. & Cooke, B (2013) 'Kurt Lewin's field theory: a review and re-evaluation', International Journal of Management Reviews, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 408-425. Highhouse, S. (2002). A history of the T-group and its early applications in management development. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 6(4), 277. Van Zomeren, M., Postmes, T., & Spears, R. (2008). Toward an integrative social identify model of collective action: a quantitative research synthesis of three socio-psychological perspectives. Psychological bulletin, 134(4), 504. Hornsey, M.J. & Jetten, J. (2004). The individual within the group: Balancing the need to belong with the need to be different. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8(3), 248-264. Bechky, B.A. & Okhuysen, G.A. (2011). Expecting the unexpected? How SWATofficers and film crews handle surprises. Academy of Management Journal, 54(2), 239-261. Haslam, S.A., Reicher, S.D., & Platow, M.J. (2010). The new psychology of leadership: Identity, influence and power. Psychology Press. (Chapter 4, 6, and 8). Gleibs, I.H., Haslam, C., Haslam, S.A. & Jones, J. (2011). Water clubs in residential care: Is it hte water or the club that enhances health and well-being?Psychology and Health, 26, 1361-1378.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20
Merit 67.7
Pass 9.2
Fail 3.1

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2016/17: 30

Average class size 2016/17: 14

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication