Groupthink and Conformity

Groupthink and Conformity

By Crystal Tsui

Have you ever been in a group and did not agree with the group’s decision, but had to agree because they would reject your idea?  Irving Janis, a social psychologist, first coined the term groupthink to describe this situation. His main aim was to understand how a group of individuals collectively come up with excellent decisions one time and fail at other times. Groupthink happens when a group of people with good intentions, but they make irrational decisions that are spurred by the urge to conform. Group members value harmony and coherence above rational thinking and refrain from expressing doubts and judgements or disagreeing with the consensus.

Irving Janis observed the following eight patterns of groupthink:

  1. Illusions of Invulnerability: when the group displays excessive optimism and takes big risks, the members of the group feel that anything they do will turn out to be successful.
  2. Collective Rationalization: when the group rationalizes thoughts or suggestions that challenge what the majority is thinking
  3. Belief in Inherent Morality of the Group: the belief that whatever the group does will be right. This causes the group members to overlook the consequences of what they decide.
  4. Out Group stereotypes: is the belief that those who disagree are opposing just to oppose the group
  5. Direct Pressure on Dissenters: the majority directly threatens the opposing group member by telling them that they can always leave the group if they don’t agree.
  6. Self-Censorship: the opposing individual believes that if they are the only odd one out then they must be the one who is wrong.
  7. Illusions of Unanimity: Silence from some is considered acceptance of the majority’s decision
  8. Self-Appointed Mind Guards: Members of the group who take it upon themselves to discourage alternative ideas from being expressed in the group.

There are numerous studies supporting the fundamentals of groupthink and conformity. One famous study was the Asch Conformity experiment. Solomon Asch gathered his participants to take a vision test where three lines at varied lengths were compared to one other; which was longer. The participants were asked to identify the lines with matching lengths. Ninety-five percent of participants answered every question correctly. Then Asch placed actors in the groups, who confidently volunteered the same incorrect answer. The accuracy dropped to 25 percent, indicating that 75 percent of the participants went along with the group’s incorrect answer for at least one question.

An Emory University neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, found that when we take a stance different from the group, we activate the amygdala, a small region in the brain associated with the fear. We don’t like to be rejected so we refrain from speaking up against the group, which supports Janis’ pattern of groupthink: Direct Pressure on Dissenters. Professor Berns defined this situation as “the pain of independence.” Many government decisions are cited as a result of groupthink, such as the Vietnam War or the invasion of Iraq.

Groupthink also fosters a strong “us vs. them” mentality that prompts members to accept group perspectives in the heat of the moment, where there is also a strong pressure from the outside to make a good decision. An example in literature is George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the animals make a nonunanimous decision to rid the farm of humans. There were animals there that quite adored being loved and owned by a human, however, those animals had to agree because the leader of the animals would punish them otherwise.

After periodically experiencing groupthink, an individual may become shy and become more introverted. They may be afraid to speak and include their own ideas in fear of the group rejecting their idea.

If you or someone you know have social anxiety and fear of speaking up, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/groupthink

https://www.communicationtheory.org/groupthink/

https://www.capitalideasonline.com/wordpress/the-pain-of-independence/

https://counselingrx.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/f74c8-1d9gxs1dxyteswk7e7zgd2q.jpeg

Shyness and Introversion

Shyness and Introversion

By Crystal Tsui

We all know someone who prefers to stay in rather than go out and party or someone who barely talk in a group setting. We may call them shy, quiet, or maybe socially awkward. But they may just be an introvert. Introversion and shyness are often times used together. However, shyness revolves around the fear of negative judgment while introversion is the preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. So it is possible for a person to be a shy extrovert, where the individual is afraid to speak up, fearing negative judgment, more so than exhausted in a certain social situation.

Despite the difference, there is also an overlap between shyness and introversion, e.i. many shy people are introverted. Some people are born with “high-reactive” temperaments that predispose them to both shyness and introversion. A shy person may become more introverted over time, motivated to discover the pleasures of solitude, other minimally stimulating social environments, and to move away from judgments. On the other hand, an introvert may become shy after continually receiving the message that there’s something wrong with them.

There’s a shared bias in our society against both shyness and introversion. Neither trait is welcomed in our society because studies have shown that we rank the fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likeable, and even smarter than slow and quiet talkers.

Here are 5 ways introverts can spend time that is deeply fulfilling and socially connected:

  1. Reading. Books transcend time and place. Studies have shown that reading fiction increases empathy and social skills.
  2. Enter a state of “flow” by doing work or a hobby that you love. Flow is the transcendent state of being, in which you feel totally engaged in an activity. People in flow don’t tend to wear the broad smiles of enthusiasm. When you watch them in action, the words “joy” and “excitement” don’t come to mind. But the words “engagement,” “absorption,” and “curiosity” do.
  3. Keep an informal quota system of how many times per week/month/year you plan to go out to social events and how often you get to stay home. This way you can plan which parties or get-togethers you can truly enjoy and which you don’t. So you are less likely to drive yourself mad thinking you should’ve stayed home.
  4. Have meaningful conversations.
  5. Spend time and show affection to the ones you love, whose company is so dear and comfortable that you feel neither over-stimulated nor anxious in their presence.

If you or someone you know is dealing with social anxiety or suffering from a disruption of their social life, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.quietrev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/QR_ebookMay8-2015.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=0

https://live.staticflickr.com/627/21427437162_910d54e08e_b.jpg

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

Childhood Trauma: Effects on Adult Wellbeing

By: Julia Keys

The child brain grows and makes connections at a rapid rate and is extremely emotionally sensitive. Unfortunately, children that experience some sort of major trauma such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, war, poverty, or unsafe living conditions can be greatly negatively impacted later on in life.

Children who have parents that are for some reason unwilling or unable to provide the love and care they need oftentimes blame themselves for the lack of parental attention. In response to this lack of care, children may start to act in ways in which they feel would help the parents love them more. As the child grows up, they can become detached from their own needs because they are so focused on the love they receive from others.

Another effect of childhood trauma is victimhood thinking. Although a child may have been helpless when they were raised, self-victimization does not help an adult in the long run because it robs them of the self-empowerment they need to change their lives in the ways they desire.

Children growing up in environments where anger is expressed violently may begin to learn that anger is dangerous and therefore should be avoided. However, suppressing emotional expression is unhealthy and can cause individuals to be passive aggressive, which is an ineffective way to communicate. The most damaging effect of childhood trauma can have on an adult is the development of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the effects of childhood trauma, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/. 

Confrontation Vs. Feedback

Confrontation Vs. Feedback

By Toniann Seals

At some point in your life you will face a confrontational situation. A few scenarios include telling a friend about your feelings, letting a coworker know that their work is incorrect and explaining to a peer that a decision they made was not okay. How you approach these situations matter.

Confrontation (Negative):

  • Problem oriented
  • Unwelcoming
  • Assertive
  • Aggressive
  • Belittling

Feedback (Positive):

  • Solution oriented
  • Inviting
  • Understanding
  • Guiding
  • Uplifting

The way you handle a situation will affect both you and the one receiving the information. A great way to face a problem is by always having a solution readily available to suggest. It shows that you care and want to make the situation better.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time dealing with confrontation speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Image:

https://canada.businesschief.com/marketing/796/The-Dreaded-Social-Media-Confrontation

Assertiveness and Anxiety: How Expressing Yourself Can Lead to a Happier Self

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

“Communication is key” is a phrase we are all familiar with, yet many struggle with actually acting on it. The most effective form of communication is through assertiveness, which involves expressing one’s views in a straightforward manner, and in standing up for one’s needs while still being considerate of others. This differs from aggressiveness in that it does not involve being outwardly emotional or insulting to others, and differs from passivity in that the individual clearly states their feelings and desires. Being assertive involves open communication, which can be difficult to engage in, especially for people struggling with anxiety. However, through practicing and learning assertiveness, people with anxiety can actually feel less worry and more confident in themselves.

Anxiety describes the uncomfortable feelings of turmoil and dread that one might have in anticipation that results in physical sensations such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and rumination. For many who struggle with anxiety, the thought of being assertive with others makes them anxious. They often worry that being assertive will come off as being mean, creating conflict, and being inconsiderate. Therefore, many choose passive communication, and never voice their views or feelings. This worsens their state of worry, as they are not properly understood by those around them and can easily be taken advantage of. They are often misunderstood which increases their worry. Others often take advantage of them because of their meek manner and visible anxiety.

Contrary to what those with anxiety believe, assertiveness can actually help them feel better. Often times, those with anxiety create situations in their mind about everything that will go wrong if they voice themselves to another person. However, such a form of open communication can create a better understanding between two people. It allows the person with anxiety to be properly understood, to dispel the fearful thoughts in their head, and become more confident in themselves and their views.

How can people with anxiety begin working towards being more assertive? By stating their views using “I,” individuals can avoid putting blame on others by expressing their own opinions. In addition, reminding themselves that their fears are not rational and that it is their anxiety talking to them can help them become increasingly comfortable with being assertive. Finally, practice makes perfect – keep trying and speak up!

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.