Group Culture Manage Your Practice

Human Pack Behavior

January 12, 2010

Taken individually, a few dogs with mildly aggressive personalities is one thing; let them form a pack and the level of aggressiveness rises astronomically.

We’re all familiar with pack behavior among animals, but are largely unaware of pack behavior among humans even though we encounter it regularly.

The social psychology concept of “group polarization” describes the fact that when people form into a group, they tend to make decisions that are more extreme than its individual members would make alone.  For example, there are studies in connection with how juries make punitive damage awards in which the group renders a decision which outstrips even the most fervent individual member’s pre-deliberation number.

Interestingly, this phenomenon presents an opportunity to be taken advantage of.  Suppose, for instance, that you’re negotiating for a stipend for your group’s provision of a new service.  How should your strategies and tactics differ if you were told that you’d be negotiating with a committee of three administrators as opposed to with one counterpart?

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