Groupthinking is a psychological phenomenon whereby all members of thegroup make decision without critical evaluation of viewpoints oralternative ideas. Group members try to decrease conflicts byavoiding raising controversial or alternative solutions. As a result,there is loss of individual creativity, independent thinking, anduniqueness. In an organization, groupthink is advantageous becausemany ideas are generated when people brainstorm together. Inaddition, a project may be completed in a short duration because manypeople are handling it hence, more ideas and opinions that exceedexpectations. However, to some extent, group thinking may bedangerous. This essay discusses some of these dangerous aspects ofgroup thinking.
Firstly,groupthink is likely to create conflict. In some situations, minoritymembers of groupthink fall victims of direct pressure from themajority of the members who questions their decisions. For instance,the article “GroupMinds”by Doris Lessing gives a typical experiment where a group of peopleis asked to assess and compare the lengths and size of two pieces ofwood that differ a little from each other. According to Lessing, themajority of the people in the group will assert stubbornly that thetwo pieces are of the same size and lengths. On the other hand, fewindividuals will assert that the pieces are different. However, themajority will continue to insist they are equal. After a period ofexasperation, this is likely to create conflict, anger, irritation,and incomprehension and the minority are likely to fall in the lineof the majority.
Secondly,groupthink kills uniqueness and independent thinking. Additionally,research shows that groupthink defect decision-making process.Loyalty is essential in teamwork. Correspondingly, loyalty requiresmembers of the team to avoid raising alternative solutions orcontroversial issues therefore, leading to loss of independentthinking and personal creativity. Lessing argues that it is very hardto stand out against a group of people (Lessing, 1985).Unfortunately, some people end up making the wrong statement justbecause the majority of the group agrees to the statement. Forinstance, one may say, black is white, just because other people aresaying it. Lessing’s essay demonstrates how groupthink affectspeople’s individuality. He argues that people from the West areeducated in different ways, yet, they all have the same idea aboutthemselves. Lessing illustrates how individuals go against theirpersonal views and opinions to please the group.
Thirdly,groupthink affects the quality of decisions. However, groupthink isnot associated with all poor decisions and miscalculation reached bythe group. Nevertheless, in situations where groupthink symptoms arepresent, poor decisions are likely to occur. Groupthink createspressure within the group whereby the members are forced to conformin order to fit in. Other members pressure any member of a groupthinkwho expresses a different idea or doubts. They also question his orher loyalty. For this reason, members are forced to guard theirminds. They take it upon themselves to protect the reputation of thegroup from negative feedback. Moreover, they shield any informationthat is harmful to the group or is likely to raise questions.Normally, groupthink suppresses direct social pressure to any memberwho expresses different stereotypes, alternative solution, or viewsfrom the majority members. According to Lessing, human beings livesin a group hence, they think as a group. It is not easy for a personto think individually or make individual choices. Lessing stressesthat people tend to change their thinking and opinions when in agroup. She states that human beings may not recognize themselves thatforce them to be helpless against pressures to confirm in the group(Lessing, 1985).
Fourthly,groupthink encourages selective bias in processing information athand. Based on the “ThePerils of Obedience”by Stanley Milgram, it is evident that the senior people in the groupmake all the decisions and arguments. Milgram conducted an experimentwhere two people participated in the study of memory and learning.One was designated as a learner and the other as a teacher (Milgram,1973).Milgram main aim was to investigate the extent people would go toobey instruction even when it involved harming another person.Additionally, he wanted to investigate how ordinary people would beinfluenced to commit atrocities. A learner would be strapped to achair with electrodes. Then, he or she would learn a list of pairwords, and afterward the teacher would ask the learner to recall itspartner from the list of four choices. The teacher would administeran electric shock to the learner every time he or she makes amistake. The level of shock would be increased every time from slightshock, danger, and severe shock. The result showed that most peoplewho participated as teachers continued to the highest level of 450volts, while those who participated as learner continued to 300volts. From the experiment, Milgram (1973) found out that ordinarypeople would follow orders from the authority to an extent of killinginnocent people. This is evident in variety of situations such as inthe workplaces, schools, and families.
LessingD. (1985). Group Minds. The Universityof California by Educational Testing Service.
Milgram,S. (1973). The perils of obedience. Harper’s, 247(1483),1973.