Group dynamics can be defined as the interactions that influence the behavior and attitudes of individuals when they are in groups. Multiple scientists have carried out studies that have focused on how people behave in groups. The findings have revealed that groups affect peoples’ attitudes, behavior and perceptions. Groups are essential for social life, but they may also negatively influence their members. This essay will focus on the dangerous influences groups can have on members.
Groupthink and Conformity
Groupthink is a term that was coined by Irving Janis. It refers to a process in which a group can make irrational or poor decisions. This situation is experienced when group members conform their opinions to the consensus of the group. The end result is that the group may decide on a decision or action that some individual members know is wrong.
Peer pressure is one of the reasons people conform to groups. In some cases, people go along with group decisions in order to be liked even though they are not in agreement with the final decision. The Asch experiment that was carried out in 1955 is a classic example of conformity. The results of the experiment revealed that a small group of between three or four people can influence and distort the judgments of others.
Groupthink occurs in numerous circumstances. In some cases, it has even led to catastrophic outcomes. An example of such a situation is the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. In this particular scenario, the management of NASA was not sure whether it should launch the spaceship after it discovered that the temperatures were low. However, management still decided to proceed with the launch despite some members being concerned about the dangers.
The spacecraft blew apart just a few seconds into flight. All the seven astronauts onboard died. This disastrous outcome would have been avoided if the people who had been concerned about the possible consequences of the move had spoken up against the consensus. Groupthink in some cases also affects the decisions of the jury. Some jurors give in to the pressure of reaching a verdict quickly, and as a result they go along with a decision that they believe is wrong.
Individuals can be influenced to do destructive or harmful things when they go along with the actions or beliefs of a group. There are numerous occasions where group dynamics has led to poor decision making. One thing that cannot be disputed is that groups can influence members negatively.