Group Polarization vs Groupthink

Group polarization is described as the tendency for a group to make judgments that seem harsher or overdone than the original propensity of its membership. At the same time, Groupthink is defined as the premature or untimely pursuit by group members of indisputable conformity to a certain action taken. Peer pressure, and social categorization, all play a role in reinforcing the prevailing viewpoint within a group, which in turn contributes to polarization

Interpretation of Group Polarization

This decision-making strategy encourages teams to settle on outcomes less moderate than the sum of the members' individual opinions. Because of engaging in social comparison, this phenomenon develops. This occurs when people enter a collective decision-making process with the attitude that their views are intrinsically better than those of their peers. The participants soon realize that their opinions are very simplistic, with each person taking an extreme stance on the risk-reward spectrum. This has a role in how the group decides what to do. When group members are deeply divided, they are far more likely to make cautious decisions. Contrarily, if the group members are risk-averse, their decisions will be riskier.

Evaluate Groupthink

The process by which a group forms a consensus without examining or critically contemplating the implications of choice based on avoiding offending a group of individuals. To reduce the potential for hostility, people become less unique and imaginative because of this tendency; workers may hold back on making suggestions for fear of offending others, particularly management.

Individual discussion helps prevent Groupthink from taking over a meeting. Timely resolutions are helped by taking time to discuss problems.

Brief Comparison between Group Polarization and Groupthink

It enables us to see the subject from other perspectives and even alter the viewpoint. After all, the very nature of a reasoned debate implies that new insights and perspectives may emerge. In a sense, this matters for the greater good of society. However, this is not an option if the group is polarised. Groupthink stifles this endeavor because it causes individuals with divergent viewpoints to either remain quiet, conform their views to those of the group, or second-guess their assumptions since the majority thinks they are incorrect. However, the reality is that it is only possible to tell what the majority believes in a groupthink situation since only some speak out.

The following table illustrates the comparative study of group polarization and groupthink

Group Polarization Groupthink
Apparent Agreement Everyone in the group is under the impression that they have reached a unanimous consensus or policy. Everyone holds their tongues for fear of being labelled a troublemaker if they dare voice a viewpoint that differs from the majority according to the theory of Group Polarisation, collective choices tend to be more radical than those made by individuals. Common Ground When people in a group give off the impression that they are all in agreement with one another, this is a classic sign of Groupthink.
Taking the Morale High Ground When teams make judgments that are far removed from the members' unique perspectives and ideas, this is known as "group polarisation." The Method of Agreement The term "Groupthink" describes the phenomenon when a group decides without analysing it thoroughly or thinking through its consequences. Decisions are made in response to actual needs rather than just to throw off an audience.
Design of a strategy for choosing choices It causes members of the group to be cautious and risk-averse, which in turn leads to conservative judgments.

Leader’s Role

A leader may influence the group's thinking in eight distinct ways. Some of them are

  • Assumption of safety − One cannot be hurt as long as one is with the group.

  • Reasons of Disagreement − Avoidance of disagreement by providing "reasons" why one should not, or "justification,"

  • Inflexible Convictions − Inflexible convictions that refuse to acknowledge the wrongness of the deed being committed.

  • Generalization Fosters − This kind of generalization fosters a "we against them" mindset among group members and those on the outside.

  • Incessant Need − People's incessant need to bury their feelings and worries due to a culture of self-censorship.

  • Apparent Unity − Having the impression that everyone else shares one view due to the group's apparent unity.

  • Forceful Persuasion − Forceful Persuasion is when one must give in.

  • Mental Barriers − Shielding anything that may be deemed incompatible with collective values.

Belief Patterns in Structured Groups

A less severe kind of conformity is "organization believe," in which group members share the leaders' views without providing convincing arguments in favor of their own. When this develops on a large scale, with intense hostility against a different group that is not the present "Us," we call it group polarization. When people are split into two camps, it is common to practice attacking the other camp and poking flaws in its values and philosophy rather than applauding its own. Groupthink stems from the same feelings and needs for social approval as polarisation inside a group, but it manifests differently. People who give in to Groupthink are easily influenced by others and will do what they are told.


To avoid going against the flow or breaking the group's peace, those who engage in Groupthink tend always to agree. When there is a clear leader, and everyone follows that person's guidance, things tend to run like this. When people make illogical, dysfunctional choices out of a need to fit in. When debates between group members lead to more extreme and extreme opinions because of the discussion, this is an example of group polarisation. For example, consider the time someone proposed renovating a building, but after some back-and-forth, they decided to paint it red instead. When a group of individuals who share similar views engages in a discussion, the result is a hardening of opinions held by all participants. Groupthink is a technique that can be utilized to unite individuals toward a shared purpose. This debate has shown, however, that such a propensity often has negative effects on collective performance.

Updated on: 26-Dec-2022


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started