Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 265–273 | Cite as

Individual experience and paradox in the development of small groups

  • Judith Stevens-Long
  • Candido Trujillo


This study attempts to understand individual emotional experience in the context of group development. It emphasizes the first level of abstraction of group member experience rather than individual experience over time through second-order interpretations. Data were gathered from mixed groups of 21 students, over 9 weeks, in a group process course at a large state university. Students had no prior group process training and kept weekly journals for credit. Content analysis was performed on the journals, meaning units were coded for theme, and frequencies of themes describing affective and traditional group process responses were tallied. The data clearly supported the paradoxical descriptions of group life, especially conflict, offered by Smith and Berg (1988). The data may also represent what the move toward relativistic (Sinnott, 1984) or dialectical (Riegel, 1975, 1977) thinking may look like at the individual level.

Key words

Group dynamics group paradox emotional development individual development conflict 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Stevens-Long
    • 1
  • Candido Trujillo
    • 1
  1. 1.The Fielding InstituteWashington

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