The influence of leader intervention conditions upon cohesiveness in encounter groups

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1975

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of the leaders' frequent use of empathic, genuine, and respectful intervention conditions upon cohesiveness in encounter groups. A further purpose was to investigate the influence of the leaders' frequent use of empathic, genuine, and respectful intervention conditions upon the yield of encounter groups. Hypotheses Two major hypotheses were tested relative to treatment group membership and their degrees and levels of cohesiveness and group yield. The hypotheses stated that the experimental group would attain higher degrees of cohesiveness than the control group, and that the experimental group would attain higher levels of group yield than the control group. Design The design utilized the participation of 18 volunteer graduate students. Stratified randomization procedures were employed to assign nine of the participants to the experimental group and nine to the control group. The experimental group was led by leaders who had been subjected to intensive leadership training prior to the experiment. This training encompassed approximately 42 hours and emphasized the frequent use of empathic, genuine, and respectful intervention conditions in encounter groups. The control group was led by leaders who had not received this training. Both groups participated in a week-end encounter experience utilizing a format quite similar to Rogers' basic encounter. Trained judges were assigned to both groups to tabulate and catagorize all of the leaders' emitted level 3 and above empathic, genuine, and respectful intervention conditions. Using the judges tabulations as the criterion measure, a t-test of difference was computed in order to ascertain difference between experimental and control leaders' emitted intervention condition. The results indicated a significant difference (p<.05) in favor of the experimental group leaders. This result served as documentation of the experimental conditions basic to this investigation. The instruments used in this research as the measures of cohesiveness and group yield were Feelings About the Group (cohesiveness), and How Encounter Groups Work (yield). Because cohesiveness and group yield are developing process variables, the measures were administered on a pre-, intermediate, and post-test basis. The pre-test results indicated no significant difference between the groups relative to their initial cohesiveness and group yield scores. Results The results of the tests of hypotheses indicated that the experimental group was more cohesive during the intermediate time period than the control group (p<.05). There was, however, no significant difference between the treatment groups relative to either their post-test cohesiveness scores or their intermediate and post-test group yield scores. Conclusions The two major conclusions of this study were (a) encounter groups subjected to the frequent emission of empathic, genuine, and respectful leader intervention condi ti ons during early group stages may attain a significantly higher degree of cohesiveness earlier in group development than encounter groups not subjected to those same conditions, and (b) group leaders who have been subjected to intensive training in the frequent use of empathic, genuine, and respectful intervention conditions may emit these conditions significantly more times during an encounter experience than encounter group leaders who have not had this training.

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