Group polarization occurs when discussion leads a group to adopt attitudes or actions that are more extreme than the initial attitudes or actions of the individual group members. Group polarization can happen in the direction of either riskiness (risky shift) or conservativeness. One example is the way in which unruly mobs (e.g., lynch mobs) often commit horrendous acts of violence that no individual member would have been brash enough to attempt. Group polarization can occur due to the following reasons:
- When like-minded people are interacting the views become stronger resulting in a decision that favours them, for example, an employee who has done an antisocial activity on the job can be given an extreme punishment if all the individuals were in favour of punishment for him.
- The favourable view of one person is validated by the others, which leads them towards that attitude; this is known as the Bandwagon effect.
- When you find people having similar views, you are likely to perceive them as in-group. You start identifying with the group, begin showing conformity, and as a consequence, your views become strengthened.