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No.21 Groupthink

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people.

Groupthink (think focus group) is a cognitive bias in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

Groupthink often occurs when there is a time constraint and individuals put aside personal doubts so a project can move forward or when one member of the group dominates the decision-making process.

Focus groups are ideal when you want to gain multiple perspectives in an interactive group setting. But, one of the things that can happen in focus groups is “groupthink.” The first person starts off on a tangent and then the entire room goes along with that first opinion.

When you are running groups, be mindful of the potential of groupthink:

  1. Devil's advocates – if the group is all agreeing a bit too quickly and easily, throw in a few ‘opposite’ ideas, otherwise known as devil's advocates.
  2. Challenge the group leader – subtly undermine the alpha character in the group in order to give others more chance of having their say, therefore limiting groupthink.
  3. Get personal – ask group members how the groupthink opinions will impact on the personally and directly help them take a more individual approach to the subject matter.

Focus groups are a quick and easy way for brands and retailers to get opinions from shoppers and consumers. However, because of biases such as groupthink, don’t overvalue the opinions of too small a sample of people or groups.

About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

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