Feature

Few personal thoughts, decisions and actions are made in isolation — they are influenced by those around us. That's why groups are fascinating to study, says Group Dynamics incoming editor David K. Marcus, PhD.

"Any kind of group research involves interdependence, where the way one person behaves or sees another is affected by all kinds of factors going on within the group," the Washington State University psychology professor says.

In his new role, Marcus has an opportunity to expand the knowledge base on group influence. Group Dynamics — the flagship journal of Div. 49 (Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy) — takes a broad view of its subject, defining group dynamics as the scientific study of all aspects of groups. It covers major realms of psychology including clinical, social, organizational and, in recent years, sport psychology.

"There are all kinds of interesting dynamics happening in team sports — everything from what makes for effective team leadership to how team members interact," Marcus says.

Like the journal's outgoing editor, Craig D. Parks, PhD, also of Washington State University, Marcus will seek high-quality manuscripts on all aspects of group research. But he'd also like to see more submissions in two key areas:

  • Group psychotherapy treatment and outcomes. Research looking at group versus individual therapy for different disorders is still "a wide open area," says Marcus. "I'd love to see more studies looking at whether there are differences in outcome when the same treatment is offered individually or in a group modality."

  • Group research on forensic and criminal justice issues. Jury deliberations and prison-based treatment groups are two of many areas in which group issues are important, Marcus says. "Seeing more research in these kinds of areas would be very exciting."

Marcus is also interested in papers that have implications for understanding and improving group functioning. For example, which leadership styles help groups achieve their goals? Which factors help group members interact most effectively? Also of interest are papers that explore groups' downsides, such as ostracism. "Even subtle ostracism can have a big impact on how people feel," Marcus says.

Although the journal's high standards mean it has a rejection rate of around 70 percent, Marcus says authors shouldn't be discouraged: He promises submitters he'll provide thoughtful reviews and comments, and turn manuscripts around within about three months.

"Authors should know that when they send papers, they'll be treated fairly and well," he says.

To submit a manuscript, visit the journal's online submissions portal.

Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse, N.Y.