A reference group is a group or collectivity that is used as a standard or frame of reference by an individual in evaluating his or her own abilities, attitudes, or beliefs or in choosing a behavior. Reference groups help orient people and may comprise noninteracting individuals, status categories, or members of social groups. Reference groups may be groups to which an individual currently belongs, groups to which an individual once belonged, or groups to which an individual aspires to belong. They may be real, tangible groups, present or not present, or even imaginary.

Psychological groups may be defined as reference groups when (a) the individual is aware of those composing the group; (b) the individual identifies himself or herself as a member, former member, or potential ...

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