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This group has developed recently Hyman used it in 1942 in his book "Psychology of status". Man a social being, belongs to many groups and wants to belong to some other groups for which he tries to follow the rules and norms of that particular group so that he too may be identified as a member of that group – this group is reference group. R.K.Murton, Newcomb, Turner, Johnson, Sherieff & Sherieff also used the term 'ref group'. Thinking broadly we find only two kinds of groups (1) Membership group and (2) Reference group.

  1. Any group of which we are member i.e. I belong to that group and I am member and satisfy my aims. R.K. Murtonse book goal for ref. group
  2. Not members but we are psychologically attached to that group (the adivasis feel they belong to the Kshatriya Class & of which they indeed are members then this is membership group. Now the example of (2) is the students admire the personality of their teacher and want to imitate i.e. they are psychologically attached to the group that the teacher belongs to i.e. perhaps the fashion).
    In this there is a physical presence. Sometimes it so happens that the reference group becomes a membership group – this changes with time, place and situation.

Sherieff & Sheriff – "Reference group is the group to which an individual relates himself or aspires to relate himself psychologically".

H.M. Johnson – "A reference group is based on the psychological association of a person or group to other group".

R.K. Murton – "Man act in social frame of reference provided by which they are member, they may or may not belong to that group but psychologically attached towards that group". He pays focus to structure function to the social environment in which they are located. People takes the standard of signifying others as self appraisal. He uses the term 'Marginal Man'. While discussing reference group i.e. the person who belongs to the reference group and he wants to relate to the reference group. He imitates the reference group in every manner but he is a member of the reference group but since he is so much like the reference group that he is considered out of the reference group and therefore he is left nowhere and has to go through a lot of tension. He wants to be a member of the reference group to raise his status a position in his group i.e. he aspires to that group – 'Relative deprivation' is another term he uses. When a man feels deprived within his group and so he wants to refer to another group to get emotional satisfaction. (he feels his views and wants are not paid attention to – he thinks the other group may be sympathetic and thus gives his emotional support). Norms too is important for reference group. Every group has its own rules, norms, regulations and procedures. This man follows the rules and regulations of his own group as well as that of the other group. The terms 'Westernization', Sanskritization are used by Srinivas A Kshatriya – if he wants to become a Brahmin – he imitates the Brahmin group and wants to be considered are – this is sanskritization (all this is as an example for reference group). Ionization - Indians try to imitate the English and thus the English become the reference group.

Turner describes reference group as role taking process i.e. our changes one's role according to the group from which he wants to identify himself psychologically (Turner is in reference to ionization).

Newcomb – Explains 2 types of reference group (1) +ve & (2) –ve. 1. Positive – the group with which we want to identify myself to raise my status, position and to have my emotional satisfaction. I am positively related to that group. 2. Negative – the group I belong to the –ve group for the +ve group.

H.Hymen – "There are some particular individuals in society whose standards or values become the ideal for the other people and are imitated by them". (He stresses on reference group behavior). In general a reference group is one which an individual perceives as holding interests, attitudes and valves in common. He takes that group as a basis for self evaluation. A attitude formation.

Characteristics of Reference Group

  1. Psychological attachment
  2. Certain norms, rules & regulations – we follow these of our own group and also that of the reference group. This gives emotional satisfaction. Sanskritisation is an example (the lower castes follow rules and regulations of higher casters).
  3. Ideal Person – Example of Mahatma Gandhi – when you read about the Mahatma you want to be like him. He is the ideal person in your view.
  4. Every person or group may have different reference group. One may like or dislike a particular group. If you like you imitate and if you don't you don't imitate.
  5. Reference group changes with time, situation etc. For a particular time you may have one reference group and at another time you may not like that group and do don't make it your reference group.
  6. When he is not satisfied with the group to which he belongs he wants to join another group and so you imitate. This gives rise to 'Marginal Man'.
  7. Mahatma Gandhi and reference group may vary from time to time therefore sometimes the reference group could become your Mahatma Gandhi.
  8. Social adjustment – when we follow the norms etc. of the reference group we are actually adjusting to that group and this leads to us adjust more easily to our society.
  9. Social control –
  10. Social transformation – development a betterment of society.

Murton – There are 3 criteria for the formation of reference group.

  1. Relative or comparative depreciation
  2. Visibility of norms of acceptability
  3. Design of living
    1. When you feel you are being ignored in your group you make another group your reference group so that you may be paid attention to.
    2. Following the norms of your reference group like Adivasis try to follow norms of higher classes to be like them.
    3. When you don't like the standard of living in your group you try to live like the reference group which you prefer like Indians live in a ionized manner.
    4. What is the use of reference group? Is it impact one never refers to a group ranking lower than his own group.

  1. Social Groups
  2. Definitions of group
  3. Characteristics of the Group
  4. Classification of Social Group