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Kimberly Rios and Cameron D. Mackey

The definition of group cohesion has been debated since the formal introduction of the concept in social psychology. Group cohesion has undergone a variety of conceptualizations over the years stemming from several theoretical perspectives. Many models of group cohesion have been introduced; however, research with these models is largely confined to the field (e.g., psychology) or subfield (e.g., sports psychology) in which it originated. Initially, unidimensional models of group cohesion were popular, with proponents of these models arguing that cohesion would have the same consequences regardless of its operationalization. However, later research found that group cohesion may be multidimensional in nature. Several two-dimensional models have been proposed, the most popular of which distinguishes between group members working together to attain common goals (task cohesion) and group members interacting with one another on a more personal level (social cohesion). Another multidimensional model of group cohesion builds on the social-task cohesion distinction but further divides social and task cohesion into Group Integration and Individual Attractiveness to Group sub-components, thus creating a four-factor model. Group cohesion has been applied to a variety of group contexts, including sports teams, military squads, and work groups. The amount of cohesion in each group is dependent upon the properties of the group being investigated. Groups that have naturally formed (i.e., “real” groups) have higher rates of group cohesion than groups created for the purpose of a study (i.e., “artificial” groups). Other factors that affect group cohesion include type of group (e.g., interdependent vs. co-acting) and level of analysis (i.e., individual or group). Research on group cohesion has focused on the consequences of group cohesion in lieu of what causes group cohesion in the first place. Furthermore, although much research has detailed the relationship between cohesion and performance, many other positive consequences of group cohesion have not been assessed in depth. Finally, group cohesion is also associated with potential negative consequences, such as groupthink.