Group polarization, which occurs when individual group members' opinions become more extreme than they were before the collective began debating the issue, can also impact group decisions. Understanding group dynamics can help us better understand the elements that influence jurors to make good or bad judgments. In a jury trial, for example, if one side is clearly ahead of the other in terms of numbers of supporters, then it may be able to ask for (or even expect) an early end to the debate and a verdict by majority vote.
The fact that group polarization exists at all should not surprise us. Social psychology has shown time and time again that groups are prone to certain dynamics that individuals do not have access to. For example, researchers have long known that groups tend to fall into polarized camps - either "like-minded" people who share many attributes, or "difference makers" who are relatively isolated from their peers - with little space in between (see my previous post on this topic for more).
So how does group polarization affect group decisions? It depends on how consensus is defined. If consensus means that no one is actively opposed to reaching a conclusion, then group polarization would seem to make things harder.
Groupthink is one of the flaws of group decision-making. This is a process in which collective pressures impair the judgment, mental agility, and efficacy of group decision-making. The second issue in group decision making is group polarization. Group polarization occurs when groups become more extreme in their views as they discuss them.
Group decisions can be good or bad. If done properly, groups can make decisions faster, better account for minority opinions, and avoid falling into groupthink. However, groups can also ignore facts, reach illogical conclusions, and lose sight of the big picture if they aren't careful. In fact, these are all problems with human nature rather than specifically with groups, so they arise anytime multiple people make decisions together.
Groups can be defined by many factors such as size, structure, and purpose. Some groups are clearly better at making decisions than others, but all groups have strengths and weaknesses. It's important to understand these traits of group decision making before you try to improve it because you don't want to make things worse for yourself or your group.
One strength of groups is their ability to generate ideas and solutions that no individual could come up with alone. This is because everyone has different perspectives that add depth and breadth to the discussion. Groups can also recognize patterns in large amounts of data that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Some examples include public policy discussions and choices, terrorism, college life, and all forms of violence. Jury judgments are one example of informational impact within group polarization. Other recent examples of group polarization can be found during athletic events. A team will often begin to believe that it will win no matter what they do, so they will either do nothing to improve their performance or use tactics that go beyond what is normal even for them. This can lead to disaster because a highly polarized team will not be able to accept defeat gracefully.
Group polarization can also happen in social settings. Some examples include groups of friends, classes at schools, and teams at sports events. It has been observed by sociologists that people tend to think like each other more as the size of the group increases. There are several reasons why this might happen. The first is that individuals have less influence over the larger group, so they feel less responsible for expressing different views. Also, since everyone is thinking the same way, no one wants to be the only one who disagrees. Finally, the group starts to behave like a single unit so there is no longer a need for everyone to have a separate identity.
People sometimes say that you can tell how well-educated someone is by the number of books they've read on group polarization. This is true because educated people know about this phenomenon and how to avoid it when creating groups such ideas.