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Group Polarisation | Meaning and Causes

Last Updated : 05 Oct, 2023
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What is Group Polarisation?

Group polarisation is a concept in social psychology that refers to the tendency for groups to make decisions or form opinions that are more extreme or polarised than the initial inclinations of their members. When individuals in a group with similar beliefs or attitudes come together to discuss a topic, the group’s collective opinion tends to become more firmly entrenched in the direction of their pre-existing views. This occurs due to the reinforcement of shared beliefs and the desire for individuals to fit in and conform to the group’s prevailing attitude during discussion.

Concept of Group Polarisation

The concept of group polarisation delves into a fascinating phenomenon in social psychology. It refers to the tendency for a group’s collective opinion or decision to become more extreme or polarised compared to the initial individual opinions of its members. When people with similar beliefs or attitudes come together in a group and engage in discussions or deliberations, the group’s shared stance tends to shift towards a more intensified position that aligns with their pre-existing views.

Causes of Group Polarisation

The following are the causes of Group Polarisation:

  1. Information Sharing: Group polarisation often occurs when group members share information and arguments that support their existing beliefs. When people in a group hear persuasive arguments that align with their initial opinions, it reinforces those opinions and pushes the group toward a more extreme position.
  2. Social Comparison: Group polarisation can be influenced by social comparison processes. Individuals may want to appear more aligned with the perceived norms or attitudes of the group, leading them to adopt a more extreme position to fit in or be seen as a valued member of the group.
  3. Selective Exposure: Group members may selectively seek out and engage with information or people that reinforce their existing beliefs, leading to the reinforcement of those beliefs and the polarisation of the group.
  4. Discussion Dynamics: During group discussions, individuals may become more committed to their initial positions as they defend their viewpoints and hear others do the same. This process can intensify existing opinions and lead to polarisation.
  5. Confirmation Bias: People tend to give more weight to information that confirms their existing beliefs while discounting or minimising contradictory information. This cognitive bias can contribute to group polarisation as individuals share and reinforce their pre-existing views.

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