Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Group Polarization

In the last byte, we looked at some of the approaches one could take to prevent group think. In today's byte, we look at the concept of group polarization. 

Group Polarization refers to the tendency for group discussions to produce shifts towards more extreme attitudes amongst members.  This group phenomenon was discovered by a graduate student!

The tendency towards a polarized decision making has serious implications for the group decision making overall - groups where initial views lean in a particular direction  - one could expect it to come back as a more extreme view following interactions.

There are two broad explanations:
  1. Social comparison approach: Individuals generally believe they hold better views than other members, during group discussion they see that their views are not too far away from the average and so they shift to a more extreme position.
  2. Persuasive argument: The group discussions reinforce the initial views of the members and so they take a more extreme position.

It is possible that in addition to these, there may be other models and the combination of these is what could lead to the polarized attitude!

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