Thursday, June 7, 2012

Groupthink

So hubby, older daughter and I were having supper the other night. Younger daughter wasn’t joining us; she was hanging out with friends...

Older daughter: “Where is my sister?”

Me: “Out sharing a brain with her friends.”

Hubby and I make eye contact, smile at each other and snicker and snort because this is a longstanding joke between us. Whenever my younger daughter (a typically intelligent and well-rounded young lady) gets together with friends, she transforms into a somewhat scatterbrained, immature state. And the more friends she’s with, the worse it gets. It’s the oddest thing. Albeit highly entertaining.

Older daughter: “Oh...groupthink”

Me [stop snickering with astonished look on face]: “Groupthink? What’s that?” (Is it possible that there is an actual term for this sudden diminishing of brain capacity?)

Older daughter: “It’s a psychological phenomenon. When people get together some people’s IQs lower, creativity is diminished, decision making can produce poor results and even moral judgment can be compromised. The bigger the group, the worse it gets. Studies show that individuals almost always perform better than groups do.”

Me smiling at daughter proudly. I should have expected this from her; she’s studying psychology, after all.

Me to hubby: “So even though we joke around, we are onto something.”

Hubby: “Yes. I told you they share a brain. And the more of them there are, the lower the percentage of brain capacity each one of them has.”

Hubby and I resume snickering and snorting, totally amused by this ‘groupthink’ discovery that explains the metamorphosis my younger daughter goes through whenever she gets together with friends.

Damn. There’s actually a psychological explanation for this.



Here is a definition about groupthink that I ran across on the internet that I found rather interesting:

Groupthink:

A good way to define this term is to tell you how Irving Janus (the main researcher on this topic) describes it. Janus (1972) said that groupthink is "a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures."

Essentially, people within a group become so consumed with the group, maintaining group cohesiveness, and doing what is important for the group that they themselves lose their ability to think independently and make good, sound judgments. There are quite a few symptoms and causes of groupthink, but it is important to know what groupthink is and that it has been used to explain a variety of tragic events throughout history such as mass suicides, poor political decisions, riots, and more.
[Source]

And here is a very fascinating article in the New York Times written by none other than Susan Cain, the author of the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”:

The Rise of the New Groupthink

10 comments:

  1. I'm not much of a joiner myself, maybe that will prevent my IQ from falling any further! That was a great article by Ms. Cain. I hate open plan offices, but maybe that's because I'm very territorial and like my own space and privacy. I love just sitting by myself and thinking - alas, I'm no Newton, but it keeps me entertained :)

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    1. I like my own space, too. I concentrate better, and I get more work done. I'm not in favour of open plan offices, either. People have no quiet and private area to work in.

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  2. That is one creepy picture, Martha. Wherever did you find it? Facinating topic. And I can say that I am definitely one whose brain gets suckied right into etherspace when I'm forced to work in a group. Teachers are notorious for group work. Maybe that is why, now that I'm retired I avoid them.

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    1. It is creepy, isn't it? I think that's why I was drawn to it; seems to fit with the groupthink idea. I (stole) borrowed it off the internet; found it when I search Google images. You are right, teachers are notorious for group work. I think it takes away from an individual's creativity and unique style, and that's a shame.

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  3. Oh why can't we spell check our comments??? Hhahahahahaha. I meant sucked not suckied. However suckied is a pretty funny word!!

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  4. "If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?" Hahaha! I've also heard this described as the 'herd mentality' I really hated it when the teacher would say "Okay everybody, break into groups." Maybe I instinctively knew this wasn't doing us any favours. That's a very creepy pic btw!

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    1. Yup, it is the 'herd mentality'. I'm not surprised that you hated when the teacher would say that. Introverted individuals naturally resist a group-style structure. The preference is to work alone and maintain a quiet environment to stay focused.

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