Group as a Social Microcosm: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Intersession Intimate Behaviors and In-Session Intimate Behaviors

Cecilia Giordano, Salvatore Gullo, Maria Di Blasi, Francesca Giannone, Gianluca Lo Coco, Salvatore Gullo, Dennis M. Kivlighan, Francesca Giannone, Cecilia Giordano, Maria Di Blasi, Gianluca Lo Coco, Gianluca Lo Coco, Gianluca Lo Coco

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The social microcosm is defined as group members replicating their everyday (intersession) interpersonal behaviors in group sessions and new behaviors, learned in the group (in-session), replicating in the members' everyday life. We examined intersession and in-session intimate behaviors, at the withinmember (differences in intimate behaviors between weeks/sessions), between-member (average differences in intimate behaviors between group members) and between-groups (group-level differences in intimate behaviors). Participants were 178 graduate students (86% identifying as women and 14% as men) participating in 10 5-session growth groups led by experienced group therapists. Before group sessions, group members completed the Interpersonal Relations Scale Checklist (IRScl; Shadish, 1984) indicating their number of intersession intimate behaviors for the previous week and, at the end of group sessions, they filled in the IRScl to indicate their in-session intimate behaviors. A 3-level HLM analysis (sessions, members, groups) predicting in-session intimate behaviors from previous week intersession intimate behaviors showed significant within-member, between-member, and between-groups effects. A second 3-level HLM analysis (sessions, members, groups), predicting following week intersession intimate behaviors from in-session intimate behaviors, showed significant between-member and between-groups effects. Between-member and within-member in-session intimate behaviors interacted to predict intersession intimate behaviors. Group members who generally had a low number of in-session intimate behaviors engaged in more intersession intimate behaviors in weeks following sessions with higher than average in-session intimate behaviors. These results provide support for the social microcosm proposition that members' trait-like everyday behaviors are replayed in the group. However state-like and other-member everyday behaviors also contribute to members' social microcosm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-218
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
VolumeVolume 68
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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