The present paper provides a brief overview of three very relevant concepts in group research: entitativity, cohesion and ingroup identification. Subsequently, a theoretical framework integrating all concepts based on theories from sociology and psychology is presented that gives an overview on their relation and differentiation. Social psychology is largely influenced by psychological and sociological theories. Roughly, these two areas can be differentiated by the focus and perspective of research: while psychologists are largely interested in intra- and interindividual phenomena, sociologists are concerned with a societal perspective. In group dynamics research, both perspectives together deliver a holistic understanding and are of equal importance. Influencing theories in the field of group dynamics stem from both areas. In the present paper and the presented framework, the two perspectives are considered through the different levels in which the three concepts entitativity, cohesion and ingroup identification are located: the group-level and the individual-level.
Ip studied the influence of Gestalt principles on perceived entitativity of groups . In their studies they used cartoon aliens to exemplify different constellations. Different from the previously described study by Lickel et al. , here, the focus was on finding out which specific cues led participants to see a group as entitative . Thus, participants were given different information on the cartoon aliens, e.g. a group of aliens that was physically similar or that moved synchronously. They found: similar ratings of entitativity resulted from different information. Furthermore, the authors describe the mediating role of perceived common traits for the perception of entitativity when physical similarity was the cue. In addition, the perception of common goals mediated the relationship between synchronous movement and the rating of entitativity . A rather complex relational model of cues is the result of this research. The main finding, however, is that the extent of entitativity was rather independent of the cue given: the ratings were similarly high or low. These findings are consistent with a theory of the formation of perceived entitativity. The theory postulated that a group can be perceived as entitative resulting from two distinct ways: through a categorical construal and a dynamic construal. Depending upon the information an observer has, he or she base their perception upon either categories or dynamics. Both, perceived similarity of group members (a categorical construal) and perceived interaction (a dynamic construal) were found to be antecedents of entitativity . The reported findings suggest that entitativity does not depend on a single cue or factor, but is rather based upon many cues independently, or a combination of them .
In this framework proposed for the HRI research community, a clear conceptualization of ingroup identification as a variable on the individual-level is reasonable, since human-robot groups are new and unknown groups to most people. Group dynamics research in psychology and sociology was focused on human interaction. With robots entering the field as possible coworkers, servants and companions, new dynamics will emerge . Considering the findings reported above, robots, as a new group of social agents, and human-robot groups, as unknown conglomerates, will not trigger defined mental representations. Thus, individuals are unlikely to feel identified with robot groups and human-robot groups, because they cannot draw on these mental representations, e.g. knowledge about status. This is the reason why at this point in time, the community of HRI researchers should put an emphasis on the individual-level of ingroup identification. Once interaction increases, individual group members start using the group for self identifying processes . In consequence, once human-robot groups have become known social groups, a shift to a multilevel conceptualization (taking into account the recent findings of dimensions and components of ingroup identification) will be needed.
To conclude, reviews of the concepts of ingroup identification, cohesion and entitativity show considerable overlap in the conceptualization, many cues predicting all three concepts and questionnaires with similar items assessing either one of them. From the 1950s and 1960s, where most research on group dynamics have its roots, the different concepts have spread and been researched by different researchers and branches in sociology and psychology. Small group researchers were mainly occupied with cohesion and researchers in the field of large groups concentrated on entitativity. Ingroup identification has been named social identity, group identity and many more. The current framework that puts an emphasis on perspective and level is supposed to serve as a common ground for research in HRI. It can and should be extended to integrate more concepts from groups dynamics research. The framework can provide a theoretical basis for the common understanding of these concepts and a common approach for research.
With regard to methodology, we further face the task to create meaningful interaction paradigms in HRI to study characteristics of groups and their members. For this purpose, we have to identify which small group paradigms from social psychology research can be transferred and maybe adapted. Also, HRI specific scenarios have to be created, since by their nature, multi-agent groups are different from all-human groups. These differences, especially with regard to (social) capabilities of the robotic group members and hence agency perceptions of the robotic agents in comparison to the human agents are giving research on group dynamics a new twist. This latter overarching question finds its reflection on every concept level as the following potential future research questions will show:
As fascinating as human-robot interaction has been all these years, we look ahead to new and possibly even more interesting times when HRI scholars face countless new research paradigms on (social) group dynamics to be discovered as they boldly go where (almost) no one has gone before. 2b1af7f3a8