Last Wednesday in class, the examples we used for the lesson on Groupthink mostly revolved around organizations. My realization just now is that one area where Groupthink is actually prominent is within families.
Before I begin tackling Groupthink within the context of a family, let me first give you a (hopefully) brief background on my family just so you'll understand where I'm coming from.
THIS is my family.
I know we look plenty in the picture but we're still actually incomplete there. Haha. All-in-all we are 16 in the family. My dad, mom, Kuya Chibs + Ate Len, Ate Chelli + Kuya Butch, Kuya Chino + Sella, Paul, Charmina, and my nieces and nephews, Chloe, Sachi, Cheiz, Batchy, Chives, and Banchy comprise the family.
The first three that came were Kuya Chibs (34) , Ate Chelli (33), and Kuya Chino (31). They are considered as the "first batch." Eight years after Kuya Chino was born, my parents had three more children. Paul (23), Charmina (20), and I make up the "second batch."
So, this is where Groupthink enters.
A long time ago, when elephant pants were still the cool thing, and apple and blackberry were just mere fruits, it was just us eight; mom, dad, Kuya Chibs, Ate Chelli, Kuya Chino, Paul, Charmina, and me. We were all still living in just one house and everyday was as chaotic as Forever 21 on sale. Us kids would play silly cooking games with play-dough while the older ones were busy doing something that I never really figured out even until now. But every dinner time, we would all drop what we were doing and gather around the dinner table.
One specific meal comes to mind when I think about Groupthink.
I was around 6 or 7 that time, I think. I was in a major chorizo phase where all I would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was chorizo. (note: I also went through a bacon phase.) One dinner time, my mom noticed I wasn't eating much so she asked me if I wanted something else. Since there wasn't chorizo on the table, I told her I wanted that. However, Ate Chelli told her that the food was enough and that I had to eat whatever was on the table. Not wanting to make her mad, I just agreed and sadly ate my food. After that, I remember going to the bathroom to cry since I was too young to get the rationale behind it.
I know it's a petty situation, but that can actually show the concept of Groupthink.
According to Irving Janis, Groupthink is "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity overrride their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
In the dinner scenario, since no one backed me up on my request for chorizo and my sister blatantly rejected it, I just went along with it to avoid any trouble. They were all fine with what was served on the table so even though I had something else in mind, I just decided to eventually disregard it. I think a contributing factor was the structural characteristic of our family. Since I am the youngest and I was only 6 or 7 years old that time, I guess my sister thought she had more right in dictating what we would have for dinner since it was her whom the maid would follow. Another one is the high cohesiveness of our family. I didn't want to do anything to disrupt the harmony because I hated seeing fights in the house.
I think this happens to a lot of familes. Not exactly the chorizo thing, but the older members' dominance over decision-making processes. When parents or older siblings make the decision, usually, no one questions it. Aside from having the means to actually execute the decision, I think another reason why the other family members, especially the younger ones, just go with it is because of the level of respect the latter ones have for their Ates and Kuyas. Personally speaking, I look up to them and I respect their decisions because I've seen how they made the right choices in life. But even with that said, I don't think that that's enough reason for their way to be the ONLY way.
Yes it might be the right decision, but only for them. It's imperative that even in a family, members find their own sense of individualism. Groupthink would only be a hindrance to each one's uniqueness. For large families like mine, I think that Groupthink only serves as an advantage in the early stages of the children for them to get adapted to the values of the family. But as the children grow older, the parents and older siblings should be confident enough to let the children make their own decisions knowing they have already been equipped with good guidance.
Fortunately, that's exactly what happened in my case and I am absolutely proud to say I am part of my family. :) Also, I am happy to say I got over my chorizo phase.
Just a few hours ago, due to certain circumstances, I suddenly got the urge to look at old family pictures. The timing was perfect because in the midst of laughing at my older siblings' ridiculous hair styles circa '90 and gushing at how cute we looked, I suddenly got the inspiration for this week's blog.