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OPINION: The dangers of Groupthink

July, 24 2020 | Local News

By Bryan Golden

The Surveyor

“Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people make irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible.” – Psychology Today

Groupthink is deleterious to individuals and organizations. Groupthink results in bad decisions becoming institutionalized to the detriment of all involved, in addition to all who are impacted by the resulting group behavior.

With groupthink, there is pressure to conform to various outlooks, opinions, or ways of thinking. Pressure may come from the group, your family, friends, or segments of society. Pressure may involve threats of being ostracized if you don’t conform. In unchecked situations, threats and actions become physical.

The fear of losing friends, or becoming an outcast, is a powerful motivator. No one wants to be rejected. However, when you compromise your beliefs out of fear, you set yourself up for long-term unhappiness.

Capitulating to groupthink erodes your self-esteem, while making you miserable. You won’t be happy abandoning your core beliefs. Your psychological health will be impacted, leaving you frustrated and stressed.

You have your own set of beliefs, morals, and ethics which are based on your values. You instinctively know right from wrong. Your outlook emanates from your ethical grounding. Your beliefs are not dependent on what other’s think.

Groupthink is a source of external pressure on your beliefs. Group think can exist at work, in your community, in your social network, and in your circle of friends and relatives. Groupthink feeds on an individual’s fear of being shunned or attacked for holding their own views.

The imposition of groupthink has a chilling effect on individual thought and speech. Groupthink is the manifestation of intolerance which stifles the free flow of ideas. This discriminates against independent thinkers. Groupthink demands unquestioning obedience.

Capitulating to groupthink feeds the groupthink. Groupthink gains power by suppressing independent and contradictory thought. Conformity is essential for groupthink to persist. Groupthink seeks to immediately shutdown any and all dissent. Fear and intimidation are the tools of groupthink.

Groupthink is defeated by independent thinking individuals who refuse to capitulate to the group’s demands of compliance. You must say NO to demands of compliance. You should not change your thinking and behavior in response to threats. Groupthink cannot persist without blind obedience. It only takes a few people saying NO to groupthink to erode its viability.

When you are overwhelmed, fatigued, and worn out, you must stand firm instead of giving in to groupthink. Resist the temptation of succumbing to so called conventional wisdom. Say NO to peer pressure. A groupthink view point does not make it right. Furthermore, the purveyors of groupthink are often a very vocal minority masquerading as mainstream thinkers.

Asking questions and engaging in debate are powerful tools in vanquishing groupthink. Information and “facts” that you hear, read, or watch must be assessed as to their validity. Question everything you read and hear. News stories must be validated by checking the sources. Too much of what is reported today is either biased or has its own agenda.

Think for yourself. If something you see or hear doesn’t make sense, you must remain skeptical until the truth is uncovered. Resist jumping on the groupthink bandwagon in the quest of acceptance. 

Keep an open mind. Be receptive to different ways of thinking. Encourage others to think for themselves rather than blindly following the crowd. Good ideas always stand up to scrutiny. Anyone who rejects being questioned should be avoided. 

Thinking for yourself prevents you from falling prey to groupthink. Never compromise your values, ethics, or morals. Stand up for what is right. Question anything which doesn’t make sense. Never participate in any negative behavior which is destructive or causes harm to others.

Bryan is the author of “Dare to Live Without Limits.”  Contact Bryan at [email protected] or visit www.DareToLiveWithoutLimits.com Ó 2019 Bryan Golden

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