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SOCIAL COGNITION. THE INDIVIDUAL IN GROUPS. Group decision making. GROUP POLARIZATION GROUP THINK. Group polarization. In groups, people tend to be more extreme in their decisions Those who tend to take risky decisions, will make even riskier decisions in a group (risky shift)

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social cognition



group decision making
Group decision making



group polarization
Group polarization
  • In groups, people tend to be more extreme in their decisions
  • Those who tend to take risky decisions, will make even riskier decisions in a group (risky shift)
  • Those who tend to take conservative decisions, will make even more conservative decisions in a group (cautious shift)
  • A group will make a similar shift – those who are mildly in agreement becoming more solidly in agreement and those mildly in disagreement will become more solidly in disagreement.
he s guilty my lord
He’s guilty my lord

Prior to jury retiring

After jury discussion

  • Most people are thinking he may be guilty (but aren’t sure)
  • Most people are thinking he may not be guilty (but aren’t sure)
  • The jury shifts to thinking he is guilty (and being very sure)
  • The jury shifts to thinking he is innocent (and being very sure)
group think
Group think
  • Members of a cohesive group emphasize agreement at the expense of critical thinking
  • High group cohesiveness
  • Unanimity of opinion is over-estimated, leading to bias in listening
  • Insulation of group
  • Strong, directive leadership – rather than impartial leadership
  • Pressure to make a decision
  • Lack of structures and procedures
consequences of group think
Consequences of group think
  • Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  • Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
consequences of group think1
Consequences of group think
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty".
  • Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  • Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
diffusion of responsibility
Diffusion of Responsibility



social loafing what happens when a group of people tackle a task together
Social loafing – what happens when a group of people tackle a task together?
  • Effort by individuals reduces when an individual is working in a group, compared to working alone
  • Accountability is reduced - individual output is difficult to measure
  • Lack of co-ordination can lead to an expectation that co-workers will “carry” the individual
  • Diffusion of responsibility
  • Less prevalent in collectivist cultures – why?
  • What impact does it have when someone in a group doesn’t pull their weight?
kitty genovese
Kitty Genovese

Video/Kitty G.avi

bystander effect
Bystander effect
  • Video/BBC Exposed City Life experiment.mp4
decision points
Decision points
  • I didn’t notice
  • I didn’t think it was an emergency
  • I thought someone else would help (diffusion of responsibility)
  • I didn’t think I would be able to help
  • It was too dangerous
conclusions from the research
Conclusions from the research
  • The more people there are around, the more likely that diffusion of responsibility will occur
  • Once someone starts to help, others will

If you could do anything humanly possible with complete assurance that you would not be detected or held responsible, what would you do?

de individuation
  • “Loss of self-awareness and evaluation apprehension: occurs in group situations that foster responsiveness to group norms, good or bad” (Myers 2005)
  • “Anti-normative behaviour is released in groups in which individuals are not seen or paid attention to as individuals” (Festinger et al 1952)
  • Group + physical anonymity + social arousal = individual functions as a group entity with less normal inhibition of behaviour
  • Real life examples: police, military, chat rooms/blog sites, cults, sports teams
the effects of de individuation
The effects of de-individuation
  • Weakens people against performing harmful or socially disapproved actions (e.g. looting, vandalism)
  • Heightens people’s responsiveness to external cues, which may be negative or positive (joining the group)
  • Increases adherence to norms emerging from the group (even if it is against the societal norm)
de individuation war violence
De-individuation – war - violence

Warriors appearance

  • Kill
  • Mutilate
  • Torture
how to reduce de individuation
How to reduce de-individuation
  • Personal responsibility – calling self/individuals to account
  • Self awareness and self evaluation – evaluate actions and reflect on behaviours
  • Identity – recognizing self and others as individuals
  • External cues – having group situation clearly defined (unambiguous, non-threatening, non-stressful, non-distracting)
  • Humanization – recognizing group as made up of individuals and not objectifying them
why good people do bad things1
Why good people do bad things




Lucifer Effect 2:26)

evil a psychological definition
Evil – a psychological definition

“The exercise of power to intentionally harm (psychologically), hurt (physically) and/or destroy (mortally) and commit crimes against humanity”


how do psychologists understand such transformations of human character
How do psychologists understand such transformations of Human Character”?
  • Dispositional: Inside of individuals: The Bad Apple
  • Situational: External: The Bad Barrel
  • Systemic: Broad influences – political, economic, legal power: The Bad Barrel-Makers
  • Dynamic interplay of all three factors
our minds have infinite capacity to make us
Our minds have infinite capacity to make us….
  • Kind or cruel
  • Caring or indifferent
  • Creative or destructive
  • And make us villains or heroes
seven processes that grease the slippery slope of evil
Seven processes that Grease the Slippery Slope of Evil
  • Mindlessly taking the first small steps
  • De-huminization of others
  • De-individuation of self (anonymity)
  • Diffusion of personal responsibility
  • Blind obedience to authority
  • Uncritical conformity to group norms
  • Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference
  • In new or unfamiliar situations
learnings from abhugraib
Learnings from AbhuGraib
  • Power without oversight is a prescription for abuse
  • Paradigm shift needed from the ‘medical model’ that focuses on the individual to a ‘public health model’ that recognizes situational and systemic factors
heroism as an antidote to evil
Heroism as an antidote to evil
  • Banality of heroism: ordinary people do extraordinary moral deeds in certain situations
  • Traditional societal heroes (Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King) are exceptions who organize their lives around sacrifice for a cause
  • Children’s fantasy heroes (Superman, Spiderman, Wonderwoman) are not reality models for kids, they possess supernatural talents
  • Most heroes are everyday people, who emerge as heroes only in particular situations

The very same situation that can inflame the horrific imagination, in those who become perpetrators of evil, can also inspire the heroic imagination in others of us, or render most people passive bystanders and guilty of the evil of inaction.

  • Don’t get involved and mind your own business
  • But humanity is my business
psychology of heroism
Psychology of heroism
  • Encourage children to develop heroic imagination and hero talents
  • To think of themselves as heroes-in-waiting for some situation to provide the catalyst for action on behalf of others or for defending an ideal (a moral principle)
  • Heroes are ordinary people whose social action is extra-ordinary. Who act when others are passive. Who give up ego-centrism for socio-centrism
  • I did what anyone could do, and what everyone ought to do