Social Wellbeing

‘The Jōbu Social 6’

Humans have a need to belong: “a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive, and impactful interpersonal relationships” Baumeister and Leary (1995)

The optimum group size for fostering social wellbeing, is 6

Size matters!

The optimum group size for fostering social wellbeing is 6. Group size of 4 – 7 also has a positive impact with some estimates up to 12. Less than 4 reduces diversity and social capital although can still provide strong cohesion and trust. Working out with a buddy or two is much more effective than working out alone. Over 7 in the group is more likely to lead to less cohesion, cliques, ‘social loafing’, less individual commitment & responsibility and reduced levels of trust.

As groups grow, some individuals face the prospect of losing their voice and having their contributions ignored. In turn, individuals within the group are less likely to feel the group is cohesive, will likely report lower trust in fellow group members, and are less likely to exhibit commitment to the group as a unit.

Social support from friends and family and having companions for activity have consistently emerged as important influencers on physical activity participation. Evidence has shown that greater levels of social capital, social cohesion, trust, and sense of community are associated with greater participation in physical activity.

Social capital

People are defined not only by their traits, preferences, interests, likes, and dislikes, but also by their friendships, social roles, family connections, and group memberships. Improving peoples social capital improves their quality of life.

As long as physical activity improves cooperation among individuals, they also improve efficiency in society. Therefore it is important for Trainers to form groups and direct team exercises. Interventions like this substantially increase social capital that includes sense of connectedness, collective efficacy, social engagement, acceptance of other groups, and improved social infrastructures.

Sport England’s Sport Outcomes Evidence Review  found that sport & physical activity leads to social and community development through: bringing people from different backgrounds together; improving levels of cohesion and social capital; improving a sense of belonging; increasing levels of social trust.

Social capital is a key resource in the initiation and maintenance of physical activity.

Researchers report that oxytocin promotes pro-social interaction, trustworthiness, and empathy.
Physical activity increases oxytocin level.

Trust & cohesion

Trust is an important aspect of groups, promoting cooperation, commitment, and collective identity. To help instil a stronger sense of collective identity, give the group an identity. Eg. An interesting group name, WhatsApp/Facebook group.

Not only is it important for people to be taken into account by their group, but that the group itself should be seen as capable of competent action. Research has shown that group cohesion varied with expectations of group member competence. The logical conclusion is the group should be of ‘reasonable’ ability. However, this could conflict with the Jōbu Super 7 foundation of ‘Inclusive’. There are many benefits of inclusivity (another topic we cover!) and we encourage Trainers to manage the group accordingly to help develop competency whilst maintaining cohesion and inclusivity.

Enjoyment is found to be an individual driver of group exercise. Social support is found to contribute to enjoyment and learning achievements. Responsive leadership, providing knowledge and clear guidance, by an enthusiastic Trainer acting as a role model, are also necessary principles for trust and a positive experience.

Collaboration develops teamwork skills and a higher level of cohesion. Non physical team goals are a strong motivator.

On average, we find that those engaging in physical activity exhibit more trust and prosocial behaviors than those who are not taking part. These effects are not temporary.

Self esteem

There is a strong connection between social physical activity and self esteem. Self-esteem is not just high self-regard, but a natural high that we feel when included in groups. It is fundamental to psychological wellbeing and a key indicator of emotional stability.  High self-esteem is associated with a number of positive characteristics such as independence, leadership, adaptability and resilience to stress and health-related behaviours. Conversely, low self-esteem is associated with poor mental health.

Greater self-esteem also predicted higher levels of relationship satisfaction, job satisfaction, occupational status, salary and physical health later in life. Interestingly, these life events did not have a reciprocal influence on self-esteem (relationship satisfaction etc. did not predict self-esteem later in life). Furthermore self-esteem does not vary across generations.

Interestingly, no particular type of exercise is more beneficial for self-esteem than another.

Techniques for improving self esteem (see below) through social physical activity are effective for all socioeconomic groups, age groups, abilities and are appropriate for the exerciser’s lifetime!

Be a local Super Hero!

Techniques for improving exercisers self esteem

  • Ensure exercisers are made aware of improvements in performance – increased confidence in ability to complete an activity increases perceived ability and self worth.
  • Short term achievable goals (physical, mental and social) – self managed or in collaboration with the Trainer are more likely to be effective than goals that are set by a Trainer without discussion. (See our posts on extrinsic and intrinsic goals😊)
  • Positive forms of instruction – includes sharing knowledge and positive encouragement in a non-judgemental way, and continuing positive encouragement when things are not going so well!
  • Providing exercisers with choice and control – gives those taking part a sense of autonomy, improving confidence. Active participation leads to a sense of ownership among participants.
  • Encouraging exercisers to focus on improving their own skills and performance – rather than on comparison with others. Competition and evaluation in comparison to other’s is discouraging for those with the lowest ability and self-esteem.
  • Encourage social interaction – where physical activity is undertaken as part of a group, there is an opportunity for individuals to increase their social network and make friends. There is extensive research that shows that good social relationships and networks promote, and are a major factor for, wellbeing and mental health.

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