What do groups do for their members? A functional model that assumes groups satisfy a number of basic survival, psychological, informational, interpersonal, and collective needs is offered. The authors examined the comprehensiveness of the model by asking members of various types of naturally occurring groups to describe the benefits they gained through membership. Analysis of those descriptions identified 16 key interpersonal functions of groups (such as social comparison, social exchange, social control, social esteem, social identity, and social learning), and individuals' evaluations of the quality of their group were systematically related to their ratings of the group's functionality. The authors discuss possible applications of these findings for improving groups but have concluded that additional work is needed to determine the applicability of the functions model to psychotherapeutic groups.

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Copyright © 1999 HELDREF Publications. This article first appeared in International Journal of Action Methods 52 (1999), 1-14.

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