Blog of Sara Jakša

Group Sizes Are Important

I don't know if anybody has not heard of the Dunbar's number. It basically says, that we humans have the ability to know and keep track to about 150-250 people at the time. It is pretty useful concept when thinking about the group dynamics. And this is the questions that I will try to explore today. Does group size affects the best way how the groups are organized.

The two best example of the two groups are family, as presentation of the small group, and the country as the big group. The small groups are also basically all the groups, that are based on the community: a village, a local Toastmaster group, a class and so on. The big are the cities, the big corporations and so on.

In the small groups, I think that the best way for them to function, would be through higher agreeableness. The higher agreeableness also implies higher empathy. It is this feeling based way of dealing with people that works, precisely because everybody knows everybody, and there is a risk of shame and being excluded and isolated by going against this mood of inclusiveness.

On the other hand, the big groups are best ruled by high conscientiousness. This leads to the predictable order for everybody, for the stability so that the groups can continue going forward. Because people don't all know each other and there is no risk in going against the grain, there needs to be stable rules, that can be reinforced, so that people know how to act.

Why so they need the separate way of dealing with this. One way to show this would be to show, what would a system lead to, if the other method was used.

In the case of the small groups, in the highly conscientious way, there would be rules about people. Imagine a family where everything is governed by rules and principle, in a ordered way. Everything is in its place. The meals are always at the same hours. The food eaten is always picked in the same way. Socialization between family members happens on the schedule and also how they socialized is governed by the rules. It is a family made for the efficiency.

While it would be interesting to live in a family like that, I am on the other side also happy that I did not.

Let us take the case of the bigger groups as well. The high agreeableness is always about inclusion of the things is perceives similar and exclusion of others. So this country would be welcome to all the citizens, but not to anybody that would disagree with their principles. If people would hurt other people, they would try to keep the whole organization harmonious, so they would make excuses to the person and forgive them. There would be no punishment for people that are confirming to the rules of empathy and being that the empathy of the people dictates.

This can be seen in today's world as well. So you don't accept Muslim immigrants? I guess you are the lowest scum on the earth. You are making an argument that goes against my values? I will make sure to flood you with messages you are wrong and make sure that everybody will hear that I think you are wrong.

Really, agreeableness empathy only extend to the people that they perceive as inside their circle. And in that case it is amazing, or at least it is to me, as somebody that has quite low level of agreeableness. To the outside though...

I prefer the upper and not the lower description. And I hope that I can continue to experience empathy from my family members and friends, but still live in the society governed by something more sensible, like order.