Group Cohesion: Definition and 10 Examples

group cohesion example and overview, explained below

Group cohesion refers to groups that have strong bonds, unity, and solidarity. Cohesive groups work well together and have high degrees of interpersonal trust.

A highly cohesive team works collaboratively towards common goals, communicates effectively, and resolves conflicts constructively while maintaining a unified sense of belonging. 

For example, a workplace where employees are part of a cohesive team will work together towards shared objectives and respect diversity within the group. 

So, strong group cohesion is crucial for optimal organizational/team functioning since it establishes clear structures for teamwork and provides emotional support through supportive relationships among positive team players

chrisComprehension Questions: As you read through this article, our editor Chris will pose comprehension and critical thinking questions to help you get the most out of this article. Teachers, if you assign this article for homework, have the students answer these questions at home, then use them as stimuli for in-class discussion.

Definition of Group Cohesion

Group cohesion refers to the bonds, unity, and emotional and social connection among group members. It explains the degree to which individuals in a group are committed to working together and achieving group goals.

It is defined by Ohlert and Zepp (2016) as:

“…a dynamic process which is reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of member affective needs” (Ohlert & Zepp, 2016, p. 347).

Cohesion is usually evident in groups that have shared interests, experiences, goals, and values.

Theories of Group Cohesion

There are different perspectives and theories on group cohesion, including social identity theory and the interpersonal attraction model.

According to the social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), people often define themselves based on their group membership (e.g., nationality, religion, occupation) and develop an “ingroup” bias where they favor members of their own group over those outside of it.

Another popular theory on group cohesion is the interpersonal attraction model (Baskett et al., 1971).

This model suggests that individuals with similar attitudes or interests tend to like each other more and are more likely to form cohesive groups.

Positive interactions among members can also strengthen cohesion by building trust and positive emotions such as happiness or satisfaction with a group’s progress.

Group cohesion also influences a variety of individual outcomes such as job satisfaction, motivation, stress levels, and even physiological outcomes like cardiovascular health (Cohen & Wills, 1985).

chrisComprehension Checkpoint: Write down some core features of cohesive groups, according to the interpersonal attraction model.

10 Examples of Group Cohesion

  • Successful sports teams: Cohesion is known to be an important factor to being successful as a sporting team. Members typically share a common goal – to win games and championships – but to be highly cohesive, members need to know each other’s group role, strengths and skills, and trust one another implicitly.
  • Military units: The military works extremely hard to ensure teams work cohesively. Soldiers in the military work together in close-knit units that rely on each other for survival and success. They share a strong bond reinforced through training exercises and combat situations.
  • Emergency responders: Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics often work together as part of emergency response teams, responding quickly to crises and life-threatening situations. They need to trust one another and work well together in order to save lives, and keep each other safe.
  • Workplace groups: Employees who work in teams, departments, or project groups need cohesiveness through shared goals – such as meeting deadlines or providing quality customer service. To achieve this, workplaces often organize team bonding sessions and set a strong workplace culture.
  • Social clubs/organizations: Fraternal organizations, sororities, and alumni associations can create an environment that fosters positive relationships among members by promoting shared values and offering support for individual aspirations, particularly when opportunities for personal development arise.
  • Family units: Families often rely on each other for emotional support. For example, siblings play the role of confidants, making major decisions together with guidance from parents who provide structure.
  • Spiritual communities: Those within churches, motorist association groups, etc., may share similar religious beliefs or practices, which leads to a desire to help others in their communities via charitable services.
  • Workout buddies/Gym groups: People often create groups based on shared fitness interests where they exercise together routinely or participate in group classes. Such group cohesion increases enjoyment from exercising while also creating accountability measures.
  • Volunteer groups: Community members join forces to address community-wide issues like spending time cleaning parks or garbage-littered streets where people come together voluntarily due to their love for communal causes.
  • Virtual communities: Interest-based online forums like Reddit foster communication among people with similar interests and can become cohesive due to a shared sense of belonging within their digital space. 
chrisComprehension Checkpoint: Reflect upon a cohesive group in which you have been a part. What were some key aspects of the interpersonal relationships and group dynamics that helped ensure cohesion?

Factors Influencing Group Cohesion

Group cohesion can be caused by various factors, such as interpersonal attraction, shared goals, positive relationships among members, and participation in activities that strengthen the bond.

Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Shared Goals: Groups with shared goals and objectives tend to be more cohesive. They are united by the common purpose that brings them together in the first place (Hagget & Chatzisarantis, 2005). For instance, when a sports team is working towards winning a championship, everyone on the team shares the same goal of performing to their best abilities, thus united in pursuit of a mutual objective.
  2. Group Size: Smaller groups tend to be more cohesive than larger groups as members have better opportunities to interact intimately, leading to closer ties (Baumeister & Vohs, 2007). For example, it would be easier for five coworkers working together at an advertising agency to relate more closely to work-related issues compared to when they’re part of larger work units spanning different departments/disciplines.
  3. Group Stability: The longer established groups remain active, the closer their members become and develop stronger bonds leading to enduring relationships (Hagget & Chatzisarantis, 2005). This sometimes reinforces seclusion from outsiders, thus limiting outside influences that could lead to conflicts or loss of direction within the group.
  4. Group identity: Having distinct characteristics unique only to your group could enhance cohesiveness (Baumeister & Vohs, 2007). So, you can easily spot fellow members by just observing some specific marks or traits, making it easier for all individuals to aid them in creating strong bonds.
  5. Group Dynamics/Interactions: Effective communication channels promoting trust can improve group dynamics and encourage positive interactions among members. This strengthens the sense of solidarity and unity within a social context.
  6. External Pressures/Challenges: External threats, such as opposition from rival teams or unexpected interruptions, can bring together members who may have had minor disputes previously (Hagget & Chatzisarantis, 2005). This collaborative problem-solving often leads to stronger bonds and positive relationships between the involved parties.
  7. Time Spent Together: Obviously, the more time spent together, the closer members become. The stronger the relationships, the more likely they are to have a unified team spirit that can help drive them toward their common goal (Baumeister & Vohs, 2007).
chrisComprehension Checkpoint: Why do you think smaller groups are easier to achieve cohesion than larger groups? Come up with 5 possible reasons.

Benefits of Group Cohesion

Group cohesion has several benefits, which can improve group performance and the well-being of individual members.

Here are some benefits of group cohesion:

  1. Improved Communication: When group members share a strong bond, they tend to communicate more openly and honestly (Levi, 2017). This improves their ability to work together towards shared goals while avoiding misunderstandings that could disrupt working towards particular objectives.
  2. Increased Motivation: High levels of group cohesion often result in increased motivation for individual members as everyone is committed to achieving shared goals. This often leads to faster achievement of shared targets (Levi, 2017).
  3. Greater Productivity: Groups with strong ties are typically more productive than those lacking cohesion. They develop mutual dependence-promoting collaborative efforts-utilizing alternating skills amongst themselves, thus completing tasks efficiently (Levi, 2017).
  4. Lower Stress Levels: Cohesive groups can provide emotional support through mutual trust-building actions, which can minimize stress levels (Boos et al., 2015). Trust-enhanced decision-making activities can also alleviate anxiety and fear levels within the group, creating a more positive social setting.
  5. Fewer Conflicts: Members of cohesive groups tend to be more empathetic towards each other’s perspectives, leading to more effective conflict resolution skills. Respect for shared ideas allows for broader thinking, resulting in consensus-driven decisions and fewer conflicts during problem-solving sessions.
  6. Increased Job Satisfaction: Strong group ties promote positive interactional dynamics, leading to a sense of accomplishment for individuals and enhancing camaraderie within a team environment (Riasudeen et al., 2019). This sense of belonging to a larger entity beyond personal growth interests can lead to higher job satisfaction rates, creating mentally safe spaces that can improve overall mental wellness outcomes.

Ways to Improve Group Cohesion

Improving group cohesion requires a concerted effort by everyone in the group – from setting clear goals to the ability to handle any failure constructively (Levi, 2017).

Here are some ways to improve group cohesion:

  • Set clear goals: Define the expectations and objectives of the group so that every individual knows what they are working towards and how it can contribute towards their development path.
  • Foster open communication: Create an environment where individuals feel comfortable participating in discussions while minimizing conflict, which involves constructive feedback between members, promoting trust-building activities.
  • Encourage participation: Ensure that all team members are actively involved by creating platforms for feedback. This will make individuals feel like they are part of the team and encourage candid thoughts about decisions made. It also promotes equitable distribution within the team.
  • Celebrate successes: When accomplishments are made, create opportunities for team members to reflect on what was done right and learn from any missteps. Encourage improvements to be made collectively.
  • Attend social events: Participating in social or team-building events outside of formal work settings can boost interactions among people working toward the same goals. It enhances interpersonal relationships outside of work that can translate into productive collaborations during times of high pressure, such as tight deadlines.
  • Resolve conflicts positively: Establish mechanisms for conflict resolution sessions that promote healthy conflict resolution techniques among colleagues. This helps ward off potential conflicts resulting from disagreements that arise along the way while striving to foster long-term understanding and respect among participants.
  • Handle failure constructively: Use failures as learning opportunities and focus on solutions rather than dwelling on mistakes. Create problem-solving exercises during such instances where collective insights help correct issues encountered.
chrisLet’s Go Deeper: Read my article on types of leadership styles and identify one leadership style that you feel would be effective in creating a cohesive group culture. What aspects of your chosen leadership style do you feel will make it effective? 


Group cohesion plays a crucial role in how groups function and how individual members experience the group.

Cohesive groups communicate more effectively, share common goals, and work together cooperatively toward achieving success.

Whether it is a sports team, workplace group, or family unit, strong ties among members provide emotional support and motivation to achieve personal and organizational objectives, promoting growth at both professional and personal levels.

Group cohesion has numerous benefits, including improving communication among teammates and reducing conflicts resulting from disagreements.

Adopting strategies that foster positive attitudes, such as trust-building techniques, effective communication channels, and problem-solving sessions, creates a conducive environment for growth in any facet of society.


Baskett, G. D., Byrne, D., & Hodges, L. (1971). Behavioral indicators of interpersonal attraction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology1(2), 137–149.

Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2007). Encyclopedia of social psychology. New York: Sage Publications.

Boos, M., Franiel, X., & Belz, M. (2015). Competition in human groups—Impact on group cohesion, perceived stress and outcome satisfaction. Behavioural Processes120, 64–68.

Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin98(2), 310–357.

Hagger, M., & Chatzisarantis, N. (2005). Social psychology of exercise and sport. London: Open University Press.

Levi, D. (2017). Group dynamics for teams (5th ed.). New York: SAGE.

Ohlert, J., & Zepp, C. (2016). Theory-Based team diagnostics and interventions. Sport and Exercise Psychology Research, 347–370.

Riasudeen, S., Singh, P., & Kannadhasan, M. (2019). The role of job satisfaction behind the link between group cohesion, collective efficacy, and life satisfaction. Psychological Studies64(4), 401–410.

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 33–37). Los Angeles: Brooks/Cole.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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