Groupthink in ordinary groups

  1. julian

    julian 412
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    It was suggested in Smolin's book "The trouble with physics" that stringy people may have succumb to a group condition called groupthink - this is where social factors lead people to defective decision making processes.

    More generally, no offense to string people as it might be just a mild case, it is characterized by a deterioration in intelligence, reality testing and moral judgement. In a paper "So right it’s wrong: Groupthink and the ubiquitous nature of polarized group decision-making." (http://ion.uwinnipeg.ca/~clark/teach/3480/Groupthink-Baron.pdf) it is argued that groupthink happens in more mundane ordinary groups. I think I may have come across such a group and was wondering if anybody knew of a sociology department that might be interested in studying an online group that I can only describe as stark raving bonkers :)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. phinds

    phinds 9,027
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    "Stark raving bonkers" and "online group" don't sound all that hard to find as a combination :smile:
     
  4. julian

    julian 412
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    It's just that what I might call the group leaders are actually maths postdocs and a PhD in theoretical physics who should know better but they think they are doing science. When I point out that they are talking nonsense and are wrong they compensate by telling me it is alright because they are bringing about an Einstein like revolution...I say O.K. are you going to publish it? I dont get an answer. Yes I think there is a online followers type nutters component who think these people are talking great stuff. I cant reason with them.

    Anyway, Baron's paper is good read...if you want to look at it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  5. "Groupthink" happens everywhere... big or small groups... regardless of their professional or educational backgrounds. This is because groups naturally build a culture and the group's culture has developed preconceived notions as to what is fact or right/wrong. These preconceived notions are held stronger than what evidence suggests as true; duping the participants. Years ago, I read a Harvard Business School thesis that described how groupthink lead to the Watergate scandal... that it was OK to bug the confidential offices of political opponents.
     
  6. Anyone read any Ayn Rand? I think she is the most vehement opposer of group think in any and all its forms.

    Just wondering: can development of primitive religions be cited as a an consequence of group-think?
     
  7. julian

    julian 412
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    One of the delusions they have is that you can magically make any object half the length and width including oblongs. I dont know how - maybe by waving your novelty Harry Potter wand over it? When I point out to them that you cant actually do this they tell it is alright because they are Einsteins bringing a bout a revolution in geometry. I try explaining that the oblong has been around for thousands of years and I think someone might have noticed it going ping and halving in size if you angle it the right way. Is it just me who thinks they are stark raving lunatics who shouldn't be making a space on their shelf for a noble prize any time soon? One of the symptoms of groups gone mad is delusions of grandeur. when I point this out to them they take it as a complement...
     
  8. julian

    julian 412
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    Now they are taking random photos off the internet and making up stuff about them (stuff that is wrong - I've checked). In any case what they end up with is still the wrong thing anyway but they dont care - they are still not sending off any paper to a journal. Apparently none of this is mad. I wish I could get social psychologists interested in this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  9. phinds

    phinds 9,027
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    The world is full of lunacy and lunatics. Why are you so hung up on this particular set ? Why can't you just ignore them and move on?
     
  10. If someone wants to bring a revolution in physics then they are by definition lunatics.

    Do they think that revolutions occur by saying we gonna make a revolution?

    Einstein and others didn't think about revolutionizing physics they just had practical problems at hand with no solution.
     
  11. Chronos

    Chronos 10,053
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    Civilization depends on group think, its what makes us human. It's not always right, but, that is not the issue. We need group think for self affirmation and identity. That's why we have clubs and political affiliations.
     
  12. julian

    julian 412
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    Hi Chronos

    Just being part of a group gives a person self affirmation and identity, without there being groupthink. Have I misunderstood what you were getting at? Groupthink the psychological term refers to a particular way things can go wrong with a group, characterized by a deterioration in intelligence, reality testing and moral judgement. And it only happens under certain circumstances. Attempts should be made to eradicate it (and there are measures that can be put in place to counter it). An example of particular concern is in juries - and in fact groupthink has been observed in courtrooms around the world apparently.


    Julian
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2013
    RabbitWho likes this.
  13. julian

    julian 412
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    I've tried to attach files has it worked?
     

    Attached Files:

  14. julian

    julian 412
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    Here is a silly question...is the first photo yellow or white? Here is another silly question...first photo - is the bottom edge curved or a straight line? In the second photo the bottom edge is a straight line. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  15. I think groupthink is amazingly useful in mundane situations. Otherwise you spend half an hour deciding what film to see or where to eat.

    Of course there are better solutions, depending on the situation, (cpg grey did a video on this), but if groupthink wasn't helpful it wouldn't be so ubiquitous. Social Psychology is very much focused on showing you instances where the usefulness of our habits breaks down, but there are few seemingly silly cognitive bias that they have uncovered which aren't useful in the vast majority of circumstances.

    What's great is that if we understand social psychology we can stop and say "wait.. this is a really important decision that we need to make, how can we minimize or eliminate groupthink?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
  16. julian

    julian 412
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    For a group to make good decisions, they must allow dissent. But people will rationalise consensus and they will sometimes end up going to see a film or a restaurant no one really wants to go to.
     
  17. Bystander

    Bystander 3,441
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    From a hazard/risk assessment workshop, "The greater the number of people involved in decision making, the higher the probability of making a bad decision if a bad decision is possible."
     
  18. That's not really the point of seeing a film with friends though, is it? If there is a good film out you'll ring your friends up and ask who wants to go see it, that's different. If you and your friends just want to do something together it doesn't matter what film you see, you can complain about it after together if it was bad. That's how I ended up seeing Hope Springs (the one with Jennifer Anniston) and Crossroads (with Britney Spears).. I think that's the only way they sold any tickets at all. So you could argue that groupthink provides jobs for talentless writers and directors.

    And as for restaurants, I can't count how many times I've gone hungry because no one wanted to make a decision about which restaurant to go to. Groupthink can save you in these types of situations.

    I really don't think anyone can argue that cognitive biases aren't useful in most circumstances, but maybe you can. It would be interesting!
     
  19. I think the problem here is the definition of Groupthink
    Which means if you make a decision in an identical way, but the outcome is good, no one will call it groupthink.

    I think that that way of making a decision (which is apparently nameless?) is good in the vast majority of circumstances, but I see now I Was wrong to say that about about Groupthink, because it's a contradiction in terms!
     
  20. julian

    julian 412
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    Who decides the outcome is good? I hope not the people who are groupthinking - they are rather biased and way over-rate themselves to the point of delusions of grandeur sometimes.

    I've read that decisions shaped by groupthink (because of its symptoms and consequences) have a low probability of achieving successful outcomes.

    Also can I mention that in the article (http://ion.uwinnipeg.ca/~clark/teach/3480/Groupthink-Baron.pdf) the original antecedental conditions for groupthink to occur are in question due to experimental evidence and are then revised (be aware of this), but symptoms and consequences remain.

    EDIT: the link doesn't work anymore, I've posted the pdf file on page 2.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2014
  21. julian

    julian 412
    Gold Member

    I think it over-simplifies things to say "make a decision in an identical way". People can have different information, different view points - but doubts are suppressed, people don't argue, some people are just influenced by others. There may be just the appearance people are in agreement.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2014
    RabbitWho likes this.
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