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Donelson R. Forsyth’s work has been honored as the Group Dynamics journal’s Most Valuable Paper of 2020

Div. 49’s journal special issue on virtual work and therapy in the COVID-19 era features an article by Donelson R. Forsyth, PhD, “Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach.”

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Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy. (2021, February 26). Donelson R. Forsyth’s work has been honored as the Group Dynamics journal’s Most Valuable Paper of 2020. https://www.apadivisions.org/division-49/publications/journal/covid-19-groupthink

Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach

Donelson R. Forsyth, PhD In recognition of contributions to understanding COVID-19’s impact on groups and group psychology, Div. 49 has named Donelson R. Forsyth, PhD’s, paper, “Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach” as 2020’s Most Valuable Paper.

The journal article discusses public health interventions, such as mandated vaccinating or quarantining during an epidemic, as necessary to limit the spread of communicable diseases, but in many cases, certain groups resist these initiatives. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, antiquarantine groups protested the mandate to socially distance and remain at home, claiming these directives violated their right to assemble, travel, and work. The current analysis examined media descriptions of these antiquarantine groups to determine if these groups’ divergent responses to a legally and medically warranted health initiative resulted from groupthink: the deterioration of judgment and rationality that sometimes occurs in groups. In support of this possibility, accounts of these groups indicated that (a) the conditions that cause groupthink, including high levels of cohesion and isolation, were present and potent within these groups and that (b) the groups exhibited many of the symptoms of groupthink, including group illusions and pressures to conform. Given the ubiquity of these groups—for centuries, public health interventions have generated opposing antiregulation reactions—no amount of planning may be sufficient to prevent such groups. However, a theory-driven approach based on groupthink suggests that group-level interventions that directly address the processes that cause groupthink, such as isolation, conformity pressure, and cohesion, could reduce the influence of such groups on their members and on society.

This article, along with others from the special issue, are available for free access.