The Dynamics of Group Cohesion in...
JOURNAL OF SPORT PSYCHOLOGY, 1981, 3, 123-139 The Dynamics of Group Cohesion in Sport Albert V. Carron and P. Chelladurai University of Western Ontario This study attempted to identify the factors correlated with the athlete's percep- tion of cohesiveness in individual and team sports. The five measures of cohesion used were factor analyzed and two factors were identified: individual-to-group- cohesion (composed of sense of belonging, value of membership, and enjoy- ment) and group-as-a-unit cohesion (composed of teamwork and closeness). These represented the dependent variables in the multiple regression design. Because cohesion is a group construct, the independent variables were chosen to reflect this aspect. They included measures of compatibility between the coach and athlete and the team and athlete as well as.measures of the discrepancy in participation orientation between the coach and athlete and the team and athlete. The results supported a conclusion that cohesiveness in sport is a multidimen- sional construct. Further, the perception of cohesiveness is moderated by the nature of the sport task. Finally, the most important factors contributing to the perception of cohesiveness in sport teams are the discrepancies between the athlete and coach and between the athlete and team in task motivation. The term dynamics, which represents the concepts of activity, energy, force, and change, was originally introduced by Kurt Lewin to represent two principal processes associated with group involvement: cohesion (activity concerned with the develop- ment and maintenance of the group), and locomotion (activity of the group in rela- tion to the achievement of its objectives). Although the two processes are different, it has been implicitly assumed that in the context of sport they are sequential and in- terrelated-the more cohesive the team becomes, the more effective it will be in terms of performance. Zander (1974) illustrated this viewpoint when he pointed out that "in spite of the individual athletes who make headlines when they strike off for themselves, team spirit is the rule rather than the exception. In fact, both amateurs and professionals generally feel that a team can't become a winner without it" (P. 64). Because cohesion and locomotion are assumed to be sequential and interrelated, both have been used interchangeably as either the dependent or independent variables in research analyses of sport cohesiveness. Thus, for example, one general research strategy has been to assess the impact of cohesiveness upon performance, Reprint requests should be sent to Albert V. Carron, Faculty of Physical Education, Univer- sity of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 3K7, Canada.
124 CARRON AND CHELLADURAI whereas another has involved determining the effect of performance upon cohesiveness. Unfortunately, however, a fundamental first step has been omitted. To date, we have no direct information on the question of what factors contribute to the perception of cohesiveness among athletes on sport teams. Conclusions from recent research do lend support to the suggestions that cohesiveness in sport is an exceedingly complex construct and that a number of fac- tors may have a strong moderating influence upon it. For example, some of the moderating factors proposed to date include the nature of the task (Landers & Lueschen, 1974) the nature of the leader-subordinate relationship (Bird, 1977) the ability level of the participants (Widmeyer & Martens, 1978) the participation motivation of the participants (Arnold & Straub, 1972 Ball & Carron, 1976) and the assessment of cohesion utilized (Carron, 1980 Widmeyer & Martens, 1978). The primary purpose of this study was to examine the nature of cohesion on sport teams with specific reference to identifying its primary correlates. A multiple regres- sion analysis design was used for this purpose, with cohesion being the dependent variable and a series of group factors being the independent variables. Within this general or primary purpose, a number of secondary issues related to the operational definitions of the dependent and independent variables. These issues are introduced in the sections which follow. The Assessment of Cohesion in Sport Group cohesion has been defined in two principal ways. Festinger, Schachter, and Back (1950) proposed that it is the total field of forces causing members to remain in the group. Gross and Martin (1952), noting that this definition focuses on the indi- vidual as the unit of analysis rather than on the group, preferred to consider cohe- sion as the resistance by the group to disruptive forces. In sport research, cohesion generally has been operationalized via the Festinger et al. (1950) definition with the primary assessment device (inventory) being the Sport Cohesiveness Questionnaire by Martens, Landers, and Loy (Note 1). This question- naire includes seven aspects of cohesiveness in sport: cohesiveness assessed as (a) friendship or interpersonal attraction among group members, (b) the relative power or influence of group members, (c) the sense of belonging the individual feels to the group, (d) the value that the individual attaches to membership in the group, (e) the degree of enjoyment the individual derives from participating with the group, (f) the level of teamwork the individual perceives is present within the group, and (g) the degree of closeness the individual feels is present within the group. The actual way in which the questions are worded in the inventory has led to a sug- gestion (Carron, 1980) that the seven measures actually form into three categories: measure of individual-to-individual relationships (friendship and influence/power) measures of individual-to-group relationships (sense of belonging, value of member- ship, and enjoyment) and measures of the group-as-a-unit (teamwork and closeness). Because cohesion is a group property, the latter category most clearly reflects what is meant by cohesion in sport. And, in fact, when studies have been carried out ex- a m i ~ n g the relationship of cohesion to sport performance, both teamwork and closeness have repeatedly been found to discriminate between successful and unsuc- cessful teams. Table 1 contains a summary of these findings. Most researchers have examined the impact of each of the seven cohesion
Table 1 An Overview of Studies Using The Sport Cohesiveness Questionnaire - - - - - Cohesion factors which Authors Athletic group General findings discriminated Arnold and Straub (1972) Intercollegiate basketball #cohesion = # Performance Teamwork, closeness n % Ball and Carron (1976) Intercollegiate hockey #cohesion = # Performance Teamwork, closeness, 0 enjoyment s Landers and Crum (1971) Interscholastic baseball #cohesion = performance Teamwork, closeness 8 z Landers and Lueschen (1974) Intramural bowling #cohesion = +performance Interpersonal attraction i Martens and Peterson (1971) Intramural basketball #cohesion = #performance Teamwork, closeness, 2 rn value of membership 'd 0 Melnick and Chemers (1974) Intramural basketball Cohesion unrelated to perfor- 2 mance Widmeyer and Martens (1978) 3-On 3 basketball f cohesion = +performance Teamwork, closeness, value of membership, sense of belonging, enjoyment