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Breaking the Ice


Hello all,

I'm sure recently there was an answer about icebreakers that talked about theory behind it, but I can't find it! Can anyone give me some names of people who have studied icebreakers and know the (hopefully good!) effects?

As ever many thanks for your help!
Nikki Brun

2 Responses

  1. Icebreakers
    I am not familiar with specific research and theory on the use of icebreakers in training. However, there are three base sources of theory or evidence that may help.
    Firstly, theories about group dynamics. Early on, groups go through a period of anxiety and confusion, politeness, sensing the environment, testing each other and so on. Theorists/writers include Bion, Tuckman, Schein, etc. (see The need to get acquainted with others and to build trust is common sense but is reinforced within these theories, as is psychological contracting.
    The second area is adult learning theory. Whether you look at orientation, andragogy or social learning theory, or practices such as accelerated learning, there are plenty of hints that people need time to get their minds attuned to learning, to the people around them and to start to dispel initial anxieties. You cannot learn best without at least partially addressing these issues.
    Thirdly, there is established good practice. Check around and you will find plenty of examples of how icebreaking activities can be used effectively – either as part of introductions, as a tone-setting activity or as an easy start to the programme. See as a typical source.
    Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of icrebreakers being used innappropriately as ‘a bit of fun’ but with the wrong tone for that group or subject matter, with poor facilitation or without clarity about how and why such activities succeed and fail. These problems often befall energisers and relaxers too.
    You might want a look at – this is a good straighforward piece which sums up the main rationale quite succinctly.
    Hope this helps

  2. That’s BRILLIANT!!!
    Thank you so much for that – it is perfect and I can’t thank you enough!


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