Group Density

Another facet of the topography of the group that is related to group size is density. Density refers to the amount of space per person in the group (the less space per person, the higher the density). Doubling the number of people in the group meeting in a room of a given size will decrease by one-half the amount of space available for each member of the group. Alternatively, halving the number of people in the group will double the amount of space available per person. Thus, in a room of a given size, density is directly linked to the size of the group. This particular approach to density is called social density, because it involves a change in density by manipulation of the social dimension (group size). One could also manipulate the physical dimension (room size), rendering a change in what is called spatial density. Thus, halving the size of the room will halve the amount of space available to each group member.

Density has been demonstrated to influence a variety of social behaviors. People have been found to report feeling more anxious, more aggressive, more unpleasant, and, understandably, more crowded as a function of density. An analysis of the effects of "tripling" in college dormitories illustrates these types of effects. As a cost-cutting measure, colleges and universities will often house three students in a dormitory room that was initially constructed for two (hence, tripling). Tripling has been demonstrated to lead to an increase in arguments among the roommates, increased visits to the student health center, decreased grades, and increased overall dissatisfaction.

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