Groupthink and Asian Cultures
Prabhjot Kaur Communication Theory Final Paper ASSUMPTIONS: A high level of cohesiveness is usually present when groupthink occurs, and there is a great reluctance on the part of group members to stray from the group’s position.They do not want to leave, be forced out, or be ignored by other members.This “oneness” associated with cohesiveness is typically a desirable condition except when the group relies too much on solidarity that the desirable ends are not focused on.
They are likely to operate in the group in a manner that seeks the approval and even affection of the other group members.
This is not the same as wanting to please the group leader with little or no concern for the opinion of the other group members. Cohesiveness is just one of three conditions necessary for groupthink to exist. The second assumption relates to the process of problem solving in small groups marking it a usually unified process. When a group is given the task of making a decision they usually go in with the thought of reaching a unanimous decision and strive to get along. They are also susceptible to adapt to the cohesiveness of the group due to affiliative constraints.
An affiliative constraint refers to members withholding their own opinions in fear of being rejected by the group. (West & Turner, 243) This is vital to the outcome of groupthink because if the members with opposing views did not fear rejection and argued their views the decision making process would be further delayed and would affect the cohesiveness of the group. The third assumption is that groups and decision making are frequently complex. There must be other alternatives available than just the one option the group is picking and the members of the group must be aware of these options.
If there are no other options then groupthink does not apply because there is no valid input being withheld by the members. Group members must know the who the other members are and be able to understand the position of the other members. Many factors such as “age, size of groups, intelligence of group members, gender composition, competitive nature of group members, and leadership styles that emerge in the group” (West & Turner, 244), will affect on how group members behave and choose to challenge the group’s decision.
Group members who are similar in one or many of these areas to one another are more conducive to groupthink. Homogeneity can foster groupthink among members and discourage them to challenge the group. (West & Turner, 244) CONDITIONS THAT PROMOTE: The first condition that promotes groupthink is presence of the cohesiveness we discussed earlier causes pressure for members to conform. The other two conditions are; group structural factors and group stress. The structure of the group does affect the way the group will function when faced with a complex problem to solve.
It is important for the group to have strong group insulation or “the ability to remain unaffected by outside influences” (West & Turner, 246). Impartial leadership also can cause people to not have access to the full information available to help them make their decision. Leaders who have their own personal agenda prioritize that first before the well fare of the group. Final structural flaw that could lead to groupthink is the lack of decision-making procedures.
If the procedures are not clearly established then the members have no structure to follow and reach a valid decision and can easily get lost in the influence of others to conform. Also, if there is no diversity in the backgrounds and experience present in the group then it may be very difficult for the group to be able to see all sides of the issue before making their final decision. PREVENT: West and Turner outline four major ways when discussing how to prevent groupthink.
The first recommendation is to require oversight and control committee to enforce the procedures set for decision making and make them aware of their responsibility to challenge collectivism. The second recommendation is to embrace whistle blowing, so the members will report unethical or illegal practices. The third recommendation is to allow for objection because conscientious objectors who refuse to participate in the decision-making process due to violation of personal conscious need a safe environment for members to challenge the collective view without fearing rejection or other forms of negative reactions.
The last recommendation is to balance consensus and majority rule. It is too much pressure to get a consensus instead it is better to work towards a majority decision. EXTENTION: Geert Hofstede is a Dutch social psychologist that did a study on of cultures across modern nations. Geert Hofstede (2001) defines Power Distance to “the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally”. The U. S. s considered a low power distance country, meaning within institutions and organizations here people relate to one another more as equals regardless of formal positions. However in high power distance countries the less powerful accept power relations that are higher in status. Hofstedes’ data from his study of over 40 countries shows that India has the highest power distance score for culture. This score implies a high level of inequality of power and wealth within society. This condition is a cultural norm for the India rather than a negative effect of groupthink.
This presence of a high power distance helps facilitate groupthink. Sinha (2008) explains, “The seniors in a group set the pace and make decisions, which the rest of the group members are likely to accept without further questioning. ” This custom is carried over to personal life as well where the elderly of the family will make decisions that the rest will follow. Geert Hofstede (2001), a Dutch social psychologist, defines power distance as “the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. A low power distance country such as the United States is where individuals relate to one another more as equals regardless of formal positions; however, in high power distance countries like India, the less powerful accept power relations that are of higher status. Hofstedes’s cultural data research of 40 countries shows that India has the highest power distance score, which implies a high level of inequality of power and wealth within society.
Sinha (2008) explains, “The seniors in a group set the pace and make decisions, which the rest of the group members are likely to accept without further questioning. ” Rather than groupthink having a negative effect on group decision making, this is a cultural norm in India. This custom is carried over to personal life as well where the elderly of the family will make decisions for everyone. This presence of a high power distance facilitates groupthink in various aspects of Indian society.