Friday, October 15, 2010

Why Cliques can be bad: Groupthink

I have posted several comments about cliques.   I've mentioned Junior High and Middle school cliques and whether cliques can be good or bad.  They can be either.  Tightly-knit groups are likely to conform, making independent thought almost impossible.  Thus, groupthink can creep in to behaviors..

Groupthink occurs when a group makes decisions (often faulty), because of group pressures and desires for conformity.  Groups tend to reach decisions without weighing all the facts, especially those facts that my contradict the "majority opinion."  Creativity and independent thinking are often lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness.   Independent thinking can disappear in juries.  Who wants to appear foolish or be embarrassed?  Teenagers want to fit in as do new employees in group situations. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when members have similar backgrounds and groups are devoid of outside opinions.   It is often easier to see Groupthink, after the fact than while it is occurring.  There are many examples of groupthink in history, including the United States failure to anticipate the attack of Pearl Harbor.

There is an old adage that knowledge is power.  But what is the media currently doing to us as citizens?  US news generally is geared toward entertaining rather than educating and informing.  Today, we are especially tuned in to internet trends and viral phenomena.  How is the internet forming your opinions?  Are you being swayed by groupthink and the media?  Think about it.

Are the groups you interact in subject to groupthink?  Think about your behaviors.  Are you confident enough to speak out or to get outside opinions.  Are your behaviors based solely on your inner circle of friends?

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