chapter  3
26 Pages

Dynamic Aspects of Entitativity: From Group Perceptions to Social Interaction: David L. Hamilton, Jacqueline M. Chen, and Nate Way


In 1996, two papers were published, quite independently, that regenerated interest in a long-dormant topic. That topic was presented in an article by Campbell (1958), in which he introduced the less-thanuser-friendly term entitativity. (Following a talk on this topic, one of the authors was asked, “Was Campbell a stutterer?”) Campbell’s paper was not a report of empirical research but rather a conceptual analysis on the basis of which the “groupness of groups” could be determined. Drawing on Gestalt principles of perception, Campbell identified several properties that could be used to ascertain the extent to which an aggregate of individuals constitutes a group. These properties included the similarity and proximity of the individuals to each other, the extent of interaction among them, their degree of coordinated action, and the extent to which they share a common fate. These properties could be used to understand what makes a group really a group, and could also be used by an observer in perceiving the groupness of groups. Campbell’s analysis was stimulating, and in subsequent years his article and the concept were cited with some frequency. For reasons unknown to the present authors, however, very little research was spawned on the topic.