Last Saturday my friends and I went downtown to have a dinner together, because we had just finished our Japanese project. Hoping to look slim on May Day, I had gone on a diet for a week and only ate vegetable salad. However, when we sat down and began to order, all the other people ordered hamburgers and French fries. When it was my turn to order, I really didn’t want to give up my diet, but seeing all the other people were ordering hamburgers, I’m afraid if I just ate salad they would think me as a strange person. Therefore, I told the waiter I also wanted a hamburger.
My experience showed an example of groupthink, which members want to minimize conflicts and reach a dysfunctional decision. In this case, I gave up my choice of vegetable salad because I’m afraid if I did so, the friendship with those people would be hurt, because it seemed like I did something differently and against them.
I think groupthink is more likely to happen in collectivism countries than individualism countries. Since collectivism cultures focus on groups within the society and tend to see the society as a whole; people in collectivism countries are loyal to group interests. However individualism cultures focus on individual, self and immediate family, but few obligations to the larger community. Therefore, people in collectivism cultures, when working together or just when staying with the other members, consider group harmony to be the most important and easy to conform to others. As a result, when I went to the dinner with my Chinese friends, I didn’t want to be a disloyal member of my group, and the other group members might feel that I was selfish just because I made my own choice without concerning about their feelings.
Groupthink is also likely to happen if someone is low self-esteem. Since people who are low self-esteem always have negative attitude toward themselves and low confidence. Consequently, when group is making decisions, they were afraid of their thoughts were wrong and they felt like if they said something different, other group members will dislike them.
Groupthink always happens on me. As a person who grew up in collectivism countries, I had been taught that it was rude if you say something against the other in one group, therefore when doing group projects I often conformed to others even if I held different opinions. However, learning about groupthink makes me know that this so-called “sacrifice” not only discomforts yourself but also hurts decision-making of the whole group, since the one of the main goals of group collaboration is to absorb everyone’s opinions and reached a better outcome.