How to Prevent Group Polarization and Break Down Prejudices: Insights from Social Science Research

When a group of people becomes more prejudiced in a discussion

Group polarization

When a group of people becomes more prejudiced in a discussion, it usually occurs due to the phenomenon called group polarization. Group polarization means that the attitudes and beliefs of individuals within a group become more extreme in the direction of their pre-existing beliefs and attitudes, after discussing them with others who have similar views. For instance, if members of a group were initially having moderately negative prejudices against a particular race, then when they come together and engage in a discussion about this issue, they may end up becoming more negative and polarized, and vice versa.

There are several reasons why group polarization happens. Firstly, when people gather in a group with others of similar beliefs or attitudes, they receive validation and support for their views, which strengthens their convictions. This leads to an amplification of their beliefs and attitudes, increasing the likelihood that they will become more extreme. Secondly, group discussions can lead to a competition among members to convince others of their views and, in doing so, becoming increasingly extreme to make their points. Finally, group polarization can be caused by the influence of minority positions as they are perceived to be more novel and stimulated interest among the group members.

To avoid the situation of group polarization, it usually helps to invite individuals with diverse views represents diverse cultures and ideologies to join the discussion. Encouraging people to listen actively to other perspectives and empathetically understand their experiences and cultural backgrounds can help break the walls of prejudices among groups. Moreover, a moderator or leader can effectively control the conversation by directing members to focus on facts, encouraging debate, engaging in collaborative problem-solving, and making sure everyone has a chance to speak.

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