Forsyth's 5 theories (pp. 45-51)


Members satisfy needs and pursue goals (own, group's) in groups


Groups shape member behavior by providing rewards and costs


The interaction of members results in emergent, group-level behavior


People process information about one another and about group tasks


Social behavior in groups is shaped by evolutionary history

Another way of classifying theories is the six metaphors (McGrath, 1997). Connections to Forsyth's system are presented in parentheses.

Six metaphors: Groups as:

vehicles for influencing members (behavioral)

systems for patterning human interaction (systems)

vehicles for task performance (motivational-goals)

information processing systems


consensus and conflict-managing systems (doesn't connect to Forsyth--Political)

systems for regulating, motivating, coordinating behavior

(motivational, behavioral)

McGrath, J. E.(1997). Small group research, that once and future field: An interpretation of the past with an eye to the future. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1, 1-27.