Donelson Forsyth’s “Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach” voted Group Dynamics Most Valuable Paper for 2020
This paper is available as a free download on the journal webpage.
Mandated vaccinations or quarantines during an epidemic are necessary to limit the spread of communicable diseases, but certain groups resist these initiatives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-quarantine groups protested the mandate to socially distance and remain at home. Forsyth’s analysis of media descriptions determined that these groups’ responses to a legally and medically warranted health initiative resulted from groupthink: the deterioration of judgment and rationality that sometimes occurs in groups. The conditions that cause groupthink include high levels of cohesion and isolation and group illusions and pressures to conform. For centuries, public health interventions have generated opposing anti-regulation reactions, and so no amount of planning may be sufficient to prevent such groups. Forsyth argues that a group dynamics understanding of the phenomenon may lead to group-level interventions that directly address the processes that cause groupthink, such as isolation, conformity pressure, and cohesion. Interventions informed by a group dynamics perspective could reduce the influence of such groups on their members and on society.