Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon where people adopt the group’s opinions, and everyone starts thinking alike (Gomes et al.). It allows people to desire harmony and conformity and strive for consensus within a group. People opposing the group’s opinions prefer to keep the peace as a whole by remaining quiet rather than disrupting the uniformity of the group. Groupthink changes the behavior of the person to go along with the group. Under some conditions, even if the majority of the group is entirely wrong, people still go along with the group. People conform to group decisions or opinions for different reasons. Group identity, Cohesiveness, and lack of experience or knowledge can make individuals go along with the majority. Groupthink can be both a negative and positive phenomenon.
Lack of experience and knowledge makes people in groups often go along with the majority. A study on normative social conformity of children and adults on robot groups showed that children were socially influenced by robots while adults resisted being influenced by robots (Vollmer et al.). Younger individuals are more likely to conform than older individuals due to a lack of experience and knowledge. Lacking personal knowledge of something makes one feel like the other group members are more qualified and more likely to engage in groupthink.
Group identity and Cohesiveness of the group builds pressure to comply with the group’s decisions and opinions (Donelson). Groups that possess bonds linking them to one another tend to display more conformity. Interpersonal attraction one person has towards another person creates a bond among group members and is expressed in different ways like friendship, liking, and respect. Attractive individuals are seen as more sincere, honest, and interesting hence individuals will try to be associated with these physically attractive persons to enhance their social status. Individuals are more motivated to please others when they are attracted to that person expecting to receive social rewards like social acceptance. Group identity is when group members are similar, and group members tend to perceive their group as correct.
Groupthink can lead to bad catastrophic decision-making. Symptoms of groupthink induce the group members to a defective decision making characterized by some flaws (Rodrigo, pg. 8). Members consider only a few alternatives due to reducing sharing of ideas and limited discussions. Groupthink leads to the rejection of external information and does not allow divergent views. The decisions selected are always chosen without requesting opinions from an external expert who might have a different perspective and give better recommendations. The group members focus on the information supporting their point of view, rejecting all arguments contradicting their values. Groupthink does not maintain a culture and atmosphere of debating ideas.
Despite groupthink leading to bad decisions, it can still use it in positive ways. The presence of high cohesion of a group due to groupthink can lead to a high level, while low cohesion can result in low performance (Rodrigo, pg. 18). Groupthink can improve the performance of a group by completing tasks and finishing projects quickly and efficiently. The group collaborates in achieving a common goal, which can help complete a task most effectively and efficiently. Groupthink brings interdependence among individuals in a group who work together towards a common goal. Groupthink can also reduce arguments among individuals, which could weaken the existing strong ties among group members.
In conclusion, groupthink is both a positive and negative phenomenon that many factors can enhance. Group consensus allows groups to make decisions, complete tasks quickly and efficiently but can also result in faulty or uninformed decision making. Finding ways to reduce groupthink can improve decision-making.
Forsyth, Donelson R. “Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach.”Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 24.3 (2020): 139. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-59628-001
Gomes, Paulo F., et al. “Mobility helps problem-solving systems to avoid groupthink.” Physical Review E 99.3 (2019): 032301. https://journals.aps.org/pre/abstract/10.1103/physRevE.99.032301
Sa, Rodrigo da Costa Leao. “Groupthink-The Importance of Cohesiveness in Group Performance.”(2021). https://repositorio-aberto.up.pt/bitstream/10216/137602/2513800.pdf
Vollmer, Anna-Lisa, et al. “Children conform, adult resist: A robot group induced peer pressure on normative social conformity. “Science robotics 3.21 (2018)https://robotics.sciencemag.org/content/3/21/eaat7111?utm_source=64&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Science-Careers-(@ScienceCareers)&utm_term=SciMag&utm_content=AAAS