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At any one time everyone belongs to more than one group, whether it is; sports group, social group, business related, etc. Within these groups behaviour must change by conforming to group norms and values. As, stated by Professor Beattie, “Big Brother provides hours of footage of social interaction” TV programmes such as; “Big Brother” and “I’m a celebrity – get me out of here” will be looked at, within this essay, to work out whether these shows are able to tell us anything about group behaviour and how it affects the individual.

Group Behaviour

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The definition of a group given by lecturer Wrennall is:- “A number of people interacting together with a common purpose and a psychological awareness that they constitute a group” People when entering groups feel the social pressure to conform. Conformity, as described by Bernstein is; “Changing one’s behaviour or beliefs to match those of others, generally as a result of real or imagined, though unspoken, group pressure”

Although there are those who would believe themselves as an individual it is said that to fit in with a group the individual’s behaviour must change, by conforming to group norms and values. This can be seen in the reality TV shows as each goes in as an individual and as the weeks go by the contestants begin to conform as to fit in to that particular group. We can see this especially with celebrity reality shows, as before they enter the programme the general public know them as a particular character but with conformity they change their behaviour as to fit in with the group that they are interacting with at that particular timeThis stage is initially the individuals meeting one another for the first time. As the individuals are just being introduced to one another, their own personalities may be overshadowed by being positive and polite creating a more socially accepted behaviour as to create a good first impression. As stated on the mind tools website, “some (individuals) may be anxious as they have not yet worked out exactly what work the team will involve. Others are simply excited about the task ahead”. Within this stage each of the individuals are trying to work out one another. It is usually quite a short stage and tends to only last for the duration of the first initial meeting.

All of this can be seen clearly on the first night of either “Big Brother” or “I’m a Celebrity – get me out of here”. Within the first few hours of the show they are simply a collection of individuals who have not yet formed a group, you are also able to see a polite manner being created as each of them are introduced. Each of the contestants have “small talk” to find out facts on one another as to be able to create an opinion on the other contestants. First impressions are vital as although they are formed quickly they tend to wear off slower and more often than not the opinion is held.

2. Storming

At this stage the members of the group are in the process of working out where the group stands in terms of the task in hand. There tends to be the introduction of disagreement and conflict as a struggle for power is created. Members of the group are often trying to gain the leadership role. This process can be clearly seen in the reality TV shows, particularly when the groups are given tasks to complete. With each task a leader is always created. Also, when making meals, there tends to always be a designated cook who takes charge of the food, this may not be complete leadership, but in the case of “I’m a Celebrity – get me out of here” food is rationed to the point of starvation for the group members and therefore whoever takes on the leadership role of the food has great responsibility for its members.

There are also those within the group who will challenge group goals. This was shown clearly in “Big Brother 5” with the contestant Kitten, who at every chance fought against the opinions of the group and the rules of “Big Brother”. Members will also begin to voice concerns and criticism, which, as already stated, creates disagreement and conflict. However, as stated in the reference for business website; “if members are not able to resolve the conflict, then the group will often disband or continue in existence but will remain ineffective and never advance to the other stages”. This again was shown in “Big Brother 5” as many members of the group were unable to resolve their conflicts and it turned into almost 10 weeks of arguing.

3. Norming

Group norms are developed by this stage and therefore the members of the group will be beginning to conform. The description for norms given by Bernstein is; “Socially based rules that prescribe what people should or should not do in various situations” With the introduction of norms the individuals will feel united as a group and be working effectively together. As stated by Tajfel and Turner “when people are allocated to a group, no matter how trivial, they think of that group as their in group”. Therefore, by this point they feel honourable to their group and therefore conflict is generally avoided effectively.

Within reality TV shows this stage is apparent quite quickly. As stated by Professor Beattie “living in such close quarters allows relationships to develop quicker”. What is also noted with these shows are the sub-groups that form, as the individuals tend to form smaller groups of those who they feel more secure and comfortable and usually who they share interests with. For example “Big Brother 6” Maxwell and Anthony formed a bond as they both enjoyed football and were both seen as the “lads” of the group. By this stage members of the group will feel comfortable with one another and feel closer. This is shown with the challenges given to contestants in “I’m a Celebrity – get me out of here!” as each of them desperately wants to be successful in their challenge to gain prizes, food, etc for their team members, not just for their own benefit.

4. Conforming

By this point the group are working entirely as a group and are not seen as a collection of individuals but a member of the group. This stage is developed through each of the individuals conforming to their certain group behaviour. The whole group tends to be devoted to the task by now and everyone knows their role within the group. Also, by this point, as stated on the mind tools website, “team members may join or leave the team without affecting the performing culture”. Now this point is more than definitely apparent with the reality shows as each week a contestant has to leave, however this does not affect the groups performance in any group tasks.

5. Adjourning

This stage is not always part of the process for every group. However, those that it does apply to, means that whatever their group was set out to achieve has been achieved. With the reality TV shows it would seem that the final would be the adjourning of the group as the 10 week task has been accomplished.


In conclusion it would appear that TV shows such as “Big Brother” and “I’m a Celebrity – get me out of here” do help to show us group behaviour. The reason being that as the individuals have been put in with a collection of people who they must form a group with allows us to watch how each of them act within a group environment. We are allowed to see how each of them conforms to the group norms which are developed, and this is clearly indicated with the successful completion of weekly tasks and challenges.


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