Opinion (Marina R. Bityanova, Ph.D., Professor of Moscow Open University, Director of the Center of psychological support in education, author of four books): “When people work together for a long time, they have to make joint decisions – not to come to a compromise, but namely to develop a common view of the problem. Compromise is an averaged solution, and hence no one’s. A group decision is general, and therefore is accepted by everyone.
“In practical terms, this is a very important property of the decisions that are accepted jointly: at the same time, they are everyone’s personal decision, therefore, everyone will perform them. Thus, a group should be encouraged to take vital decisions together, in collective discussion.
“But is a group decision effective? Maybe it is better if a decision is made by one person – the head, the leader, and then he convinces the group in his reason?
“People have long realized that taking a complex and responsible decision is better in discussion (a council of wise men, gathering of the elders, focus group), in general agreement – consensus. A group action is qualitatively and quantitatively superior to the action of the ‘average’ person, but sometimes is not as effective as the actions of an outstanding personality.
“Group decisions are more risky than individual; having united, people decide to take the risk, because a group discussion makes people feel that they share responsibility, personal irresponsibility that facilitates the adoption of extreme decisions, view risk as treasure: readiness to take risks increases status; during the panel discussion, group members aim at showing that they possess such readiness.
“Another important feature of group decisions: during discussion, opinions are not averaged, but polarized.
The thinking style of a group with a high level of internal unity and autonomy has the following features:
– An illusion of invulnerability;
– The desire to give a rational explanation for one’s decision as the only possible and correct;
– Stereotypical view of opponents;
– Open pressure on the minority;
– An illusion of unanimity;
– The emergence of self-appointed guardians of the group spirit, etc.
“Studies show that groups of this type increases internal cohesion and self-satisfaction of the members, but it reduces the quality of group decisions; members’ individual decisions are of a higher quality than those of the group.
“This phenomenon often occurs in groups working in crisis, stressful situations, forcing group members to unite around group goals, to fence off from the outside world.”
My Comment: When a group wants to unite so that its unity benefits the whole world, no negative qualities can occur in it.