During my 3 years of university, I have noticed the emergence of groupthink. The term was coined by Irving Janis in 1972 and refers to the idea that maintaining harmony within the group is more important than rationally considering the facts and ideas being discussed. Groups affected by groupthink are more likely to undertake ludicrous actions and patronise other groups (Hassan 2013). There is no room for debate or critical discussion.
I rarely share similar views as others at university. As an 18 year old fresh out of high school, I expected university to be a place where I would meet like-minded people; a place where people can openly express their opinions and that they would be respected. Yes I am now very aware of how naïve I was! I have noticed now that if you do not share the popular view, you are judged and lectured about how you should change your stance. I have experienced this before and it is not a good feeling. I don’t feel like I can express my opinion in a classroom or on the internet without being hounded; I feel like I have no freedom to speak my mind.
I want to know why universities have become this way. Why can’t people who don’t share the popular view voice their opinion without being hounded? Are people blindly agreeing with the group just to be liked?
I will investigate by answering the following question:
Has groupthink become prevalent in Australian universities?
To answer my question, I will undertake a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. First, I will compose and distribute multiple surveys to my peers in BCM212 and my Facebook friends who attend university (not just at UOW). These surveys will feature questions about the concept of groupthink and the participants’ observations and experiences. The notion of groupthink may best be tested by putting together a focus group. The group must consist of individuals of various personalities, backgrounds and different views on certain topics. I will select participants based on their opposing views and interview them prior to convening the focus group. I will determine whether groupthink is evident by observing whether their views change during discussion.
In researching this topic, I will inform all participants in surveys and focus group that the purpose of my research is for a university research project on the topic of groupthink. I must ensure that everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and will not publish any information without their consent.
Hassan, G 2013, ‘Groupthink principles and fundamentals in organisations’, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, vol. 5, no. 8, pp. 225-240, available from http://journal-archieves36.webs.com/225-240dec.pdf.