One of the main characteristics of human beings is that we have a clear tendency to live inserted in groups, and not individually. In fact, for millions of years, our evolutionary lineage has been composed of hominids who have lived in tribes, groups in which several families live together.
However, as with virtually any psychological propensity, this lifestyle does not only provide benefits; It also involves certain risks and inconveniences. In this article we will see what are the advantages and disadvantages of belonging to a social group , with explanations.
Advantages of belonging to a group
In this section we will see what are the benefits of having one or more social groups that accept us and consider us a member of the community.
1. Assume a protection factor
The first advantage is obvious and has to do with a very material fact: being part of a group makes it more difficult for us to expose ourselves to dangerous situations that can end us.
For example, it means that if someone attacks us, others will probably come out in our defense, or that if we run out of having a basic livelihood to live with, others will give us shelter.
2. It provides us with role models
In addition, another advantage of being part of a group is that we are constantly exposed to examples to follow, people who have similar characteristics and objectives to ours and who are stimulating when orienting our actions towards a goal .
In this way, being surrounded by such people will make it more likely that we feel motivated to perfect certain qualities that if we work provide us with better livelihoods and that at the same time will surely benefit the rest of the group members.
3. Strengthen our self-esteem
The feeling of belonging is one of the aspects that positively reinforce people’s self-esteem.
On the one hand, to see how the rest of the people consider us a part of the group implies that they recognize our importance, given that the same efforts that these people devote to watching over the community are, indirectly, efforts from which oneself benefits. .
On the other hand, being part of a group means that other people identify with us, that they are predisposed to make sacrifices for defending us against attacks from elements outside the group, which emulates the functioning of the emotional bonds that arise in families and families. love relationships in general.
4. Fight loneliness
Loneliness is one of the vital situations most related to harmful life habits and physical or psychological illness.
Therefore, the simple fact of having a community is beneficial, because it encourages us to leave home and interact , which keeps us active and gives us reasons not to abandon ourselves.
5. Provide us with information
Information is another resource, and belonging to a group, with the possibility of contacting many people, is an important social capital.
This, for example, means that we do not need to memorize everything we need to live , since this information is distributed among the individuals we deal with (this is what is known as transactional memory).
Disadvantages of being part of a group
Although it is considered that in the balance between benefits and disadvantages the former have more weights than the latter (among other things because we depend on social relationships to survive), it is true that belonging to a group also has its negative elements . Let’s see what they are.
1. Irrigation of contagion
Groups are means of contagion of epidemics. However, in modern societies, the fact of belonging to a group in which adequate prevention measures are taken minimizes this risk, assuming that one may not be part of a group and at the same time relate to others.
2. Effect of social pressure
Another of the disadvantages of belonging to a group is that the simple fact of being part of one exposes us more to group pressure , given that the rest of its members share certain characteristics with us and through this identification initiatives can be legitimized to create uniformity between individuals.
For example, using as an excuse that all members of the group share a language, you can try to associate a dress and a symbology that expresses that identity, making those who do not adopt this aesthetic are indicated.
3. Criminalization of dissent
It is within the dynamics of the groups to use exemplary punishments against those who were previously part of the group and later adopted behaviors that are considered contrary to group identity.
4. Appearance of leadership by default
Another disadvantage of group membership is that if we do not strive to avoid it using democratic mechanisms, a leader appears who has more power than the rest in decision making and role-sharing, regardless of his or her degree of skill in The task to be addressed collectively.
5. Outward confrontation
The feeling of belonging has several degrees of intensity, and at the most extreme it can legitimize hostility towards those who are not part of the group , just by being outside its limits.
But even when the feeling of belonging is not very strong, the simple fact of being part of one usually predisposes us not to be so supportive with those who are outside it.
- Asch, SE (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, pp. 31-35.
- Sewell, WH (1989). Some reflections on the golden age of interdisciplinary social psychology. Annual Review of Sociology. fifteen.