Dr Benjamin Janaway @drjanaway Psychiatrist, Writer and Science Communicator. Working on a novel. Widely published. Media enquiries via DM. RTs usually endorsements. Future Silver Fox. Jun. 08, 2019 2 min read

Why can't we all get along (politics groups.)

1) According to social identity theory, we join groups over a need to belong which allows us to cultivate a 'positive image' which is rewarded with affiliation to the group and its ideas. I.e are you remain or leave

2) The polarisation of groups leads to more risky and extreme behaviour in the name of ideas or membership, where those with more extreme views better encapsulate the underlying ideology (although this may become too extreme.) Crucially, the outspoken are respected.

3) Discussion within a group creates a biased consensus, where opposing views from 'out group' are no longer seen. The plate is rearranged only with what the group brought to the table, so external information or opinions are lost. The group's ideology becomes stronger.

4) The 'in group' (i.e members) become associated only with the concensus often created by the most extreme members. This is about a sense of affiliation and belonging, so once you are in you are in. But what if you disagree? (i.e remain parties and jeremy corbyn last year.)

5) Groupthink means that the group takes on certain ideas to protect itself. It sees itself as invulnerable and members cannot question it. Those who speak out against worrying ideas are suppressed and pressured to conform. They are not questioning the idea but the group now.

6) Mindguards block external influence. Opposing forces are kicked out, shamed, and linked to stereotypes of the other group (i.e the remainer is a snowflake, you dislike brexit, you must hate jeremy corbyn.) At this point rationality gives way to stereotypes and manipulation.

7) By this point, the groups are polarised, self involved, exclusive, fundamental about certain ideas, see others as a threat to the group and the individuals. At this point any external opinion, even if correct, is shot down by nefarious means

The truth is the extreme dont represent the complete views of the majority, but to escape the ideology of the group means abandoning more than just that idea, but all of them. The ingroup will shun, so the process repeates itself. So why is this relevant?

Simple really

1) Polarised groups represent only extreme views, but contain myriad people who don't agree with all of it, but go along with it due to above.
2) Communication fails because humans don't talk, but fight over potentially false beliefs created out of bias.

3) Genuine opportunities to unite groups disappear, because there is no trust or those who suggest it are shamed and ridiculed. They may leave, but the original group continues with more extreme members left.

So does anyone else see this?

*note: the above is based on theoretical work within psychology which have different evidenced bases and limitations. Any comment or expansion on any point is well received. Not all groups or individuals, actions or events will fit entirely, or at all. x

If I have made a mistake, please tell me and expand on it. I will happily update the thread to reflect others views. I see no shame in making mistakes as long as you can learn from them and admit it. x


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