The Hidden Weakness of Close-Knit Groups

Everything has a downside. Even strong team cultures and close-knit relationships. The more cohesive the group or relationship, the more susceptible it is to “groupthink.” 

The idea of groupthink emerged in social psychology in the 1970s to describe the desire of group members to conform to other members' opinions. Interestingly, this happens most frequently when groups enjoy member loyalty, camaraderie and connectedness. 

When a group or relationship experiences groupthink, people suspend judgment and rational belief in favor of concurrence with others. No surprise, this produces lousy decisions and superficial discussions. Groupthink short-circuits the necessary steps of sound decision-making by failing to test ideas, so-called facts and arguments. Worst of all, when we experience groupthink, we are the last to recognize it. 

So, how do we know if groupthink is potentially a problem? Ask how often the group or relationship experiences conflict and encourages challenge to deeply-held ideas. Do people feel comfortable expressing an opposing view? Do discussions on important topics end quickly? 

If you suspect a relationship or group you’re a part of is suffering from groupthink, confront others with the possibility. If the group is not willing to discuss the chance, then groupthink is present. You have your answer.