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Minimum Group Size


Explanations > Groups > Minimum Group Size

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How many people does it take to make a group? Five? Ten? Actually it is three.

One person is alone. Two people are a relationship pair. When it gets to three, there is a big leap in perception. Within the three, there is a greater sense of cohesion and collective power. If another person joins them, there is a further improvement, but this is not as great a step as between two and three.

The same effect is mirrored in perceptions of others. Two may be seen as a person and a supporter. Three are taken distinctly more seriously. Again, four increases credibility, but this is not as much a step up as between two and three.

The impact of the group is highly dependent on how cohesively they act. If they appear as one voice, then even two can have much greater power than one.


In social psychology, two people are often called a 'dyad' and act differently to a triad. In a dyad, each person can focus solely on the other. This is a big step from 'me only' but the relational pairing is more of a one-other partnership than a multiple-others group.

In a triad, an individual's attention shifts back and forth between the two others. This process of sharing attention and concern is a critical element of groups and helps explain the step between two and three people.

When the group size reaches four, it can fall into acting more as two dyads than a cohesive and single-minded group, which can result in loss of group identity and consequent power. In smaller groups, an odd number reduces the chance of breaking up into even and possibly opposing sub-groups.

There is a circle of influence between how the people in the group feel and how much respect they are afforded by others. If the group acts confidently, they will be ceded more power, which will only act to increase confidence further.

See also

Minimum Group Theory


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