Difference Between Groupthink and Group Shift

Key Difference – Groupthink vs Group Shift 

Groupthink and Group shift are two concepts between which some difference can be identified. Groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon in which members of a group make decisions based on the pressure that they get from the group. On the other hand, Group shift refers to a condition where the position of an individual in the group changes to adopt a more extreme position due to the influence of the group. The key difference between the two is that while, in groupthink, the individual discards his personal view; in group shift, he has the opportunity to present an extreme position of it. This article attempts to elaborate this difference further.

What is Groupthink?

First let us pay attention to groupthink. This term was coined by the social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972.  Groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon in which members of a group make decisions based on the pressure that they get from the group. This also denotes that the members put aside their opinions and beliefs. For instance, some group members can keep quiet even when they feel that the decision that the group arrives at is wrong just because he does not want to oppose the idea of the group.

According to Janis, there are mainly eight symptoms of groupthink. They are as follows.

  1. Illusions of invulnerability (excessive optimism of members)
  2. Unquestioned beliefs (ignoring moral problems and group and individual acts)
  3. Rationalization (stops the member from reconsidering his opinion)
  4. Stereotyping (ignore the out-group members who have the ability to challenge the ideas of the group)
  5. Self-censorship (hiding fears)
  6. Mindguards (hiding information that have issues)
  7. Illusion of unanimity (creates a belief that everyone agrees)
  8. Direct pressure

We all have experienced groupthink in our lives. For instance imagine a situation where you are with a bunch of close friends and discussing a matter before arriving at a decision. All the other members seem to hold a particular opinion, which is very different to your person belief. Even if you feel that the decision of the other members of the group is rather faulty, you will keep quiet because you do not want to taint the harmony of the group. This is a very simple example of groupthink. Now let us move on to group shift.

Difference Between Groupthink and Group Shift

What is Group Shift?

Group shift refers to a condition where the position of an individual in the group changes to adopt a more extreme position due to the influence of the group. This denotes that the individual would adopt a riskier decision in his group although in reality this is different to his initial position. Social psychologists highlight that this is mainly because the risk is shared in the group.

When speaking of group shift, first we need to pay attention to various types of members in the group. There are members who are conservative and also others who are aggressive.  In group shift what happens is that the conservative members become even more cautious than before while the aggressive becomes even more risk takers. This is why psychologists point out that group shift entails taking extreme positions. Also, studies on group shift emphasize that it is a result of the bonds that are being created within the group. Since it is a group, the pressure, anxiety, and responsibility are diffused allowing the members to behave in any manner that suits them. Also, it creates an environment for people to be influenced by others as well.

Groupthink vs Group Shift

What is the Difference Between Groupthink and Group Shift?

Definitions of Groupthink and Group Shift:

Groupthink: Groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon in which members of a group make decisions based on the pressure that they get from the group.

Group Shift: Group shift refers to a condition where the position of an individual in the group changes to adopt a more extreme position due to the influence of the group.

Characteristics of Groupthink and Group Shift:

Personal view:

Groupthink: Personal view can be put aside in favor of the popular view.

Group Shift: Personal view becomes much stronger due to group influence.

Pressure:

Groupthink: The group has an immense pressure on the individual.

Group Shift: Similar to Groupthink, the group, has an immense pressure on the individual.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Small group conversation at a Gurteen Knowledge Cafe” by Dgurteen – [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons

2. “US Navy 040615-N-4190W-001 A women’s Bible study is held in the ship’s chapel aboard the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67)” by U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Chris Weibull – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 040615-N-4190W-001 (next) [Public Domain] via Commons