Group Cohesion

Group cohesion is "the dynamic process that is reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuits of its instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of member affective needs" (Carron, Brawley, Widmeyer, 1998).

More simply, cohesion is the motivational aspects of a group which attract individual members to the group and the resistance of those members to breaking up.

"What is decisive in critical situations is the atmosphere in the squad. A good atmosphere is not something that can be built up in a short time. It takes work and patience." Sven Goran Eriksonn


Team Cohesion

"Team cohesion is the tendency for your team to stick together and stay united while trying to achieve a goal”

Whether we emphasize fun and participation, or strive for peak performance, either way, team cohesion is something worth considering for all types of teams.

We all know that a team’s level of unity and “stick-togetherness” changes over time.

The cohesion on a team can change as the season progresses, or even fluctuate before and after important events. These changes help to illustrate how team cohesion is a dynamic process—actively changing. This tendency to change is all a natural part of group interactions. As people interact, their views, relationships, and goals may shift. Because team cohesion represents the feelings of the members involved—as their feelings change, so does their level of unity.

When studying group processes, researchers tend to break team cohesion down into smaller parts so that they can get a better idea of what is really going on in a group or team.

  1. One way to look at team cohesion is by splitting it into two components helps to illustrate just how complex group processes can be:
  • group interactions (do the athletes all have a shared belief about something? how do they get along with each other?)
  • individual attraction (opinions and beliefs that individual athletes hold about the team - does Joe like the lane he's in? does Sally like the other girls in her lane?)

2.    Another way team cohesion is divided separates task from social aspects:

  • Task cohesion has to do with the pursuit of performance goals (do the athletes share similar goals? do they agree with the level of training?)
  • Social cohesion is the level of team closeness in a social sense( how do the athletes get along with each other?)

These divisions of team cohesion can help us to more accurately evaluate a team’s level of cohesion. However, we must keep in mind, that athletes can be high in one area and low in another at the same time.

“Task cohesion has a stronger relationship to performance…our study has provided evidence of a very strong relationship between (task) cohesion and success in sport teams”   (Carron, Bray & Eys, 2002)

Not only will learning more about team cohesion help us to better understand our athletes, but team cohesion can also help team members to perform better, and this is because,
as in accordance with current research, there is a circular relationship between team cohesion and better performances. That is to say: increasing cohesion can help your team’s performance, and better performances help build team cohesion



This effect is what researchers call the Cohesion—Performance Relationship. This highly studied area of group processes has undergone some major changes in the past few decades. Previously, it was only thought that only interactive sports like basketball or football could benefit from team-building activities. And in these cases, it was thought that only task cohesion would have an effect on the team’s performance.


In sum, the following factors affect cohesion:

  • Stability - Cohesion develops the longer a group is together with the same members
  • Similarity- Cohesion develops when the more similar the group members are in terms of age, sex, skills and attitudes
  • Size - Cohesion develops more quickly in small groups
  • Support - Cohesive teams tend to have managers and coaches who provide support to team members and encourage them to support one another
  • Satisfaction- Cohesion is associated with the extent to which team members are pleased with each other’s performance, behaviour and conformity to the norms of the team