– Group Conflicts Essay, Research Paper
Anti-Social BehaviorA Discussion and Analysis of Group Conflicts For purposes of this research paper, it is the intent of this author to present and assess the relationship of deciding not to work within a group format, group conflicts with membership and anti-social behavior. To this extent, this author should like to address a greater understanding of anti-social behavior, group conflicts, and the pros and cons of same. It is the belief of this author that there exists an important social relationship between anti-social behavior and group functioning. “Shut up you S.O.B.” and “You can kiss my —,” are just a few of the explicatives that researchers were dealing with on a recent study on how to reduce inappropriate behavior in verbally aggressive, elderly subjects. The researchers succeeded in mitigating the aggressive outbursts of six older people who were diagnosed schizophrenics and institutionalized. Their aggressive behavior was monitored in a group setting on the ward, and in a socialization hour before and after two three-week training sessions and again five months later. The group training sessions included descriptions by the experimenters about the importance of proper verbal behavior, role-playing between the experimenters and two psychology interns, and then role-playing by the subjects imitating the scenarios they had just seen. They were offered social incentives for continued non-aggressive behavior, instead of material incentives such as cookies and a soda. A well behaved subject would be rewarded by participation in a socialization hour or special recreational outings based on his or her interests. Researchers found that, after having been taught appropriate social skills and then given adequate incentive to use them, the incidence of verbal aggression gradually decreased and stayed consistently low during the five-month follow-up period (Brown University, 1992). Indeed, much research has been done on social and anti-social behavior. As indicated, research has identified distinct relationships between social and anti-social behavior as well as the influence of same within a group setting. Similarly, the pre-identified scenario underscores group conflicts as well as their potential resolution. In the aforementioned scenario, the research was the result of in-house research which is to be contrasted to out-patient group therapy. It is the view of this author that anti-social behavior and group conflicts may manifest themselves with some individuals who exhibit anti-social behavior and others who do not. This is to say that there are individuals who exhibit anti-social behavior and are treatable through a group-style format, and others who are not. It is the intent of this author to attempt to illuminate this topic, largely through research and case studies which this author believes will be purposeful. Fortunately, there is no paucity of case studies as well as varied demographic or sample groups. The elderly is one group who is cited in the aforementioned study, and they make for a particularly useful group in that, in our society, the elderly represent prime candidates for anti-social behavior because of their age. Similarly, many are institutionalized, and group formats are particularly pervasive amongst this group. This is, to a similar extent, true amongst low-income families for specific socio-demographic reasons. An example of this would have to do with a low-income family who is brought together with other low-income families due to a common need. Often, this need is defined in terms of basic food, shelter and clothing. Increasing numbers of families are unable to obtain enough food throughout the month, and many go hungry during the last week of each month. The groups at greatest risk for food shortages are the elderly, children, and single-parents families. Even people participating in government program run out of food at times. Low-income families were evaluated to determine if the number of food servings consumed by family members each week was associated with food shortages or participation in food assistance programs. Home interviews were conducted with 109 families that were members of 6 food cooperatives for low-income people. 48 other low-income families who were not using the food cooperatives were also included. Several factors associated with more family food servings per week were identified. These were household size, number of sources of income, and participation in WIC (a supplemental program for women, infants and children). Families that experienced the most serious food shortages at the end of the month were those with the youngest children (Taren, et al., 1992). This study underscores the dire trauma of some people who may exhibit anti-social behavior, and there are little to no answers or resolutions to treating these groups. Even with the nagging need of food and shelter, there are individuals who would prefer to go without than participate in group activity. As indicated by the study, many individuals would not avail themselves to food cooperatives. In fact, one group of 48 families who refused to participate in the food cooperatives were, by contrast, younger. It may be construed that there exists a correlation between the usefulness of a group approach to anti-social behavior and age. In the aforementioned study, it was indicated that, while there are individuals who come together as groups (and in an enthusiastic way) for a common purpose, anti-social behavior presents many individuals who represent groups as well who participate. This as well is a matter of degree. This is to say that there are some individuals who are very willing participate; there are some who will participate in group activities only to an extent; and there are some who will not participate in any social activity whatsoever. It is the belief of this author that many of these who fall between the social cracks, if you will, represent many of our hard-core homeless individuals. This statement is both tentative as well as generalized, but one thing is for sure ? there are those who are more socially oriented than others. There exists a number of related factors which evidence themselves in the literature, and have to do not only with socioeconomic and socio-demographic status, but also ethnicity and the psychological makeup of individuals. For example, the use of professional mental health services has been shown to vary significantly by various ethnic and socioeconomic groups. These individuals tend not to use these services or professional services of any kind, except under extreme circumstances. One stereotypical characteristic that has been attributed to Mexican Americans as well as other underclass populations is a fatalistic outlook on life. Some feel this characteristic is culturally based. Other believe that socioeconomic factors give rise to this attitude. The impact of cultural factors and socioeconomic conditions in a population of Mexican-Americans was examined using a theoretical path model which considered a number of variables that relate to the utilization of professional mental health services. Interviews were conducted with 446 Mexican-Americans and 227 Anglo-Americans, and test responses were evaluated to examine the subjects’ readiness for self-referral. The sequence of factors predicted in the theoretical path model included ethnicity, socioeconomic status, depression, and the amount of social and institutional support available to the individual (Briones, et al, 1992). The results of this study indicated that depression was an important factor in, not only anti-social behavior but group treatment. Results were derived from the study to consider a multifactorial approach in evaluating the causes of not only mental disorders of this sample population, but also regarding self-referral behavior. We can see from this study that some individuals were more disposed to referring themselves to group treatment than others. It is difficult to extrapolate from this study the degree of advantage vs. disadvantage regarding the potential benefit of those who were willing to self-refer vs. those who were not. At any rate, one thing which could be decidedly concluded from this study is that ethnicity is a decided factor in evaluating those who are prepared to undertake group treatment. As indicated, there is no paucity of research in the area regarding anti-social behavior and group conflicts. One study identified 196 homeless and 194 housed, poor families in Los Angeles, CA in order to gain an understanding of events that precipitate anti-social behavior. This anti-social behavior was connected to homelessness in this particular study, in that both homeless and housed poor mothers averaged 23 years old and were accompanied by 2-3 children. 3/4 of both the homeless and housed families had income below the poverty level and both groups expended almost 2/3 of their income on housing. Mothers in homeless families more frequently reported spousal abuse, child abuse, drug use or mental health problems vs. weaker support networks. Burdens of increasing housing costs and family dysfunctions amongst housed, poor families place many at risk for homelessness (Wood, et al, 1992). This study, again, underscores a relationship amongst the socio-economically disadvantages as well as those who are in need of therapy (i.e. group, etc.). As seen, there exists a number of imperatives which relate group conflicts and anti-social behavior. Robert Bayer quoted from William McNeal’s Plagues and Peoples, whose unsettling thesis is that humanity’s vulnerability to infectious disease will surely remain as it has been hitherto, one of the fundamental parameters and determinants of human history.” By placing his argument within this broad, ecological context Bayer reminds us that both individual and collective freedom is always conditioned in chosen ways (Sullivan, 1992). The author goes on to underscore the connection between both public and private consciousness and behavior patterns. There exists moral complexities which may or may not be advanced by screening programs and public health facilities as evidenced within specific groups. Ultimately, it is the view of this author that group conflicts which are identified as anti-social behavior emanate from these multivariates. In the view of this author, there exists some universal parameters which connect most people. For example, a sense of personal security is important amongst most people. An excellent question that was posed to me ? not by someone who has a progressive anti-social disability, but by the wife of a young man so afflicted. Anti-social behavior is sometimes harder on the person’s family than on the individual. So, what about progressive anti-social behavior. It has its ups and downs, the remissions and relapses, good days and lousy ones, but how does one deal with this recurring pattern. The woman with whom I spoke stated, “I seem to have this driving need to socialize.” More than any other culture, we Americans have the ability to determine our own destinies, chart our own courses and plan ahead, and we are accustomed to a certain amount of stability. So, when life’s only certainty confronts us, we sometimes don’t do well (Slater, 1992). The individual afflicted with anti-social behavior is consistently confronted with his/her own sense of self in light of group, community and society. To a large extent, the input which he/she receives is determined by this. As Tom Cooley, the notable sociologist stated in his looking glass theory, “The image or perception we have of ourselves is determined by the way society regards us.” At this point, this author should like to identify some similar imperatives, if not “universals,” associated with the dilemma as exhibited by our understanding of anti-social behavior. Much insight can be derived from case studies ? both individual as well as collective. At the outset of this paper, this author had identified a case study which involved elderly people. Another case study which was researched at the Univ. of Wisconsin found that close relationships within nursing homes often endure for long periods of time. Furthermore, the results indicate that a close friend ? either a staff person or fellow patient ? enhances individual residents’ participation in nursing home activities, satisfaction with the nursing home, and overall satisfaction with life. Researchers interviewed 332 intellectually alert residents in 54 nursing homes, and found that 58% of the subjects felt close to someone outside the home. Women of relatively high mental ability who could still walk and hear were most likely to form stable one-on-one relationships, although 90% of the subjects had a close relationship with someone outside the home. Only friends within the facility significantly aided adjustment to life in a residential care setting (Brown Univ., 1992). One significant aspect of this study has to do with attitude. This attitude, I believe spills over into not only the way one perceives one’s self, but in the way individuals treat others. It was found that individuals who maintained ongoing relationships made friends and provided extra opportunities for those who were particularly needy ? more needy than themselves. In the past few decades, society’s norms for gender-appropriate behavior have changed. The emergence of feminism in the 1960’s, in part, prompted mental health professionals to reexamine their use of gender stereotypes that had an adverse effect upon their female patients (Kaplan, et al, 1992). What this experimental study underscored was that there existed gender differences in terms of not only attitudes but the ability to function within a group setting. It was found that there exists specific feminine traits which make some better candidates than others for group behavior. These differences are gender-based, and similarly must be considered by the group leader or researcher when assessing the participant. It is the belief of this author that a number of factors may be concluded from the research. Anti-social behavior and the inability for individuals within a group to coordinate ? as well as those who are completely disposed against group-style therapy may be identified in terms of socioeconomic, socio-demographic and psychological makeup. Similarly, there are possible gender and cultural factors, as this author has identified throughout the literature. It is similarly the opinion of this author that that group of unknowns ? and it is the view of this author that some percentage of the homeless represent those ? may never be fully understood because they are not available long enough to be studied. Ultimately, it may be that there exists an unknown factor that will remain unknown until at which time the full extent of anti-social behavior can be assessed. It is clear to this author that far more research needs to be done on this subject
ReferencesBriones, David F., Peter L. Heller, Paul H. Chalfent, Alden E. Roberts, Salvador F. Aguirre-Hauchbaun and Walter F. Farr, Jr. “Socioeconomic status, ethnicity, psychological distress, and readiness to utilize a mental health facility,” American Journal of Psychiatry. Oct., 1992, Vol. 147, p. 1333.___________. “Friendship fosters adjustment (nursing homes),” Brown University Long-Term Care Letter. July 9, 1992, Vol. 2, p. 8.___________. “Group process effective in decreasing verbal outbursts,” Brown University Long-Term Care Letter, Dec. 23, 1992, Vol. 2, p. 5.Kaplan, Marsha J., Caroline Wingett and Noel Free. “Psychiatrists’ beliefs about gender appropriate behavior,” American Journal of Psychiatry, July 1992, Vol. 147, p. 910.Slater, W. “In search of security,” Independent Living. Aug- Sept., 1992, Vol. 5, p. 76.Sullivan, William M. “Private Acts: Social Consequences,” The Hastings Center Report, Sept-Oct, 1992, Vol. 20, p. 45.Taren, Douglas L., Warren Clark, Mary Chernesky and Elizabeth Quirk. “Weekly food servings and participation in social programs among low-income families,” The American Journal of Public Health, Nov. 1992, Vol. 80, p. 1376.Wood, David, Burciaga R. Valdez, Toshi Hayashi and Albert Shen. “Homeless and Housed Families in Los Angeles: A study comparing demographic, economic and family function characteristics,” American Journal of Public Health, Sept. 1992, Vol. 80, p. 1049.