Groupthink - shoot yourself in the foot to fit in. Easier than you think

by zagor 1 Replies latest jw friends

  • zagor

    On a hot afternoon in Coleman, Texas a family is comfortably playing dominoes on a porch, until the father-in-law suggests they take a trip to Abilene, fifty-three miles north, for dinner.

    The wife says, ‘Sounds like a great idea.’

    The husband, despite having reservations because the drive is long and hot, thinks that his preferences must be out of step with the group and says ‘Sounds good to me. I just hope your mother wants to go.’

    The mother-in-law then says ‘Of course I want to go. I haven’t been to Abilene in a long time’

    The drive is hot, dusty, and long. When they arrive at the cafeteria, the food is as bad. They arrive back home four hours later, exhausted. One of them dishonestly says, ‘It was a great trip, wasn’t it.’

    The mother-in-law says that, actually, she would rather have stayed home, but went along since the other three were so enthusiastic. The husband says, ‘I didn’t want to go. I only went along to satisfy the rest of you’
    The wife says ‘I just went along to keep you happy. I would have to be crazy to want to go out in the heat like that.’
    The father-in-law says that he only suggested it because he thought the others might be bored.

    The group sits back, perplexed that they together decided to take a trip which none of them wanted. They each would have preferred to sit comfortably, but did not admit to it when they still had time to enjoy the afternoon.

    What you just read is dramatic illustration of consequences of what is in management theory called groupthink (story taken from “The Element”)

    Perfectly normal people make all sorts of decisions in life, from choice of religion to who to date or even marry, what to wear, what music to listen etc etc to appease the group they belong to, be it friends, family, workmates or whoever is it we spend most of time socializing with, or fitting in.
    We are swayed by the appearance of somebody’s outside demeanor forgetting they might just be playing their part on the stage they think others expect from them to make the show complete. None of them wants to be a nail that sticks out for fear of being hammered down. But if any of them actually had guts to actually speak their mind as it is inside between their ears or went after what they actually really wanted they might have saved both themselves and others of pain that comes with it.
    So when people ask why somebody join a cult, or does things that are against their best interests etc, are they crazy? Actually they just need to be perfectly normal, because unfortunately evolution has endowed us with such a trait. But it is really up to us to go a step further in our own development and not just to go for a ride with what we are born.

  • ziddina

    Yes, I like that story...

    I always thought of "Groupthink" as "herd mentality"... I think back 'bout 8,000 years or more, when membership in the 'group' or 'tribe' meant life, and to be expelled from the 'herd' generally meant a quick and brutal death...


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