sheep symbolizing groupthink

Groupthink Manipulation ― Exploiting People in Groups

Find out what Groupthink manipulation is and what you can do to prevent from affecting your life.

What is Groupthink Manipulation?

Groupthink manipulation is a set of tactics which motivate groups to act impulsively.  The pressure to conform and belong often results in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making. It discourages critical thinking while negating the individual’s responsibility for their actions.  Moreover, this type of brainwashing employing systematic psychological tactics to incite members to adopt radically different ideas and actions.  One of the main tools of this brainwashing technique is classical censorship.

How does it work?

Groupthink works because people feel “special” because of their inclusion.  People feel emotionally charged, stimulated.  So, the feelings of stimulation and belonging can be very addicting. These tactics are also known as the group mind, or the mob effect. The idea of a group mind, herd or mob behavior was put forward by the French social psychologists Jean-Gabriel De Tarde and Charles-Marie Gustave Le Bon.  These researchers give us a way of identifying the tactics and effects of these types of psychological and sociological techniques. 

When you become a part of a group the natural tendency to belong causes the loss of your individuality.  Exploiting this loss gives groupthink its power to motivate using emotionally charged discourse.  This type of language compels people to act without considering their actions or consequences.  In an emotionally charged crowd, the individual tends to act in sync with the group. This can lead the group to behave in ways the individual would not. So, inclusion in the group is not without a price.  This is why these tactics are so dangerous for any civilization.

Groupthink manipulation often uses a scapegoat on which to project negative emotions.  This focal point gives a charismatic leader an enemy on which to project blame.  Adolph Hitler is an example of a leader who was an expert at these tactics.

Where are these tactics found?

Furthermore, this type of group manipulation is more common than you realize.  This strategy at work in Western organized religion, politics and even street gangs.  Above all, religion is the biggest enemy of progress.  It’s the chosen-one mentality and belief in the imaginary being known as God. We even see it celebrations of sports teams which turn into vandalism. The negative sociological effects of groupthink manipulation are undisputed.  Once immersed in the emotionally charged environment it becomes addictive.  The effects can last long after people leave the groups proximity. Thus, providing fuel to individual acts of violence spawned by Groupthink manipulation. 

Religions have long used Groupthink manipulation to incite genocide. Christians and Muslims retaliate against one another in under the guise of protecting their invisible friend. These religions have splintered into over 2,000 separate sects.  Each sect believing they alone are “right.” And, because everyone else is wrong, this provides the basis to act violently, to protect their doctrine. If you ascribe to one of the versions of the Abrahamic traditions the following list of tactics should be illuminating.

Characteristics of Groupthink Manipulation

If you find yourself subject to any of the following characteristics you are exposing yourself to groupthink manipulation tactics.

Chosen-one mentality

Membership in the group makes you special, a “chosen one.” Membership in the group centers on belief in an imaginary friend.  And, this membership empowers the group to protect the solidarity of the dogma of the group.  They are often provoked to use violence in order to protect these beliefs. Everyone outside the group become enemies of the group by default.  This provides plenty of adversaries on which to project hatred. Many religions and political movements capitalize on this feature.

Illusions of Invulnerability

Now because you are chosen you must also be invincible.  This inspires members of the group to be overly optimistic.  Members engage in risk-taking outside their personal norms.  They are willing to participate in violent acts on behalf of the group, in the name of their imaginary friend.  Membership resolves people from individual responsibility for their actions while encouraging participation.  A charismatic leader will use this element repeatedly.

Unquestionable beliefs or creeds

Requiring members to avoid and ignore any inconsistencies in the dogma of the group.  Likewise, they are taught to ignore the consequences of individual and group actions. The edict is to follow the beliefs and the actions of leadership without questioning the logical or moral implications.  Hence, members are often required to recite dogma, doctrines or creeds on a regular basis to confirm their assimilation.

Complete Social integration

Groupthink seeks to integrate the individual’s life as much as possible.  This acts just like social glue.  The idea to have the individuals personal and business life tied into the group.  Integrating the individual’s social and business relationships with those in the group cement them into the group.  They are far less likely to push the boundaries of the group.  In fact, this makes them a reliable source of cash flow and easily manipulated into other less socially acceptable behaviors.


Rationalizing actions replaces remorse.  It provides logical fallacies as a means of justifying group actions.  This effectively prevents members from reconsidering their beliefs and behaviors.  The misuse of logical argument causes members to disregard warning signs of manipulation.  Facts that contradict the dogma of the group are off-limits or reasoned away in some way.


This leads members of the group to demonize individuals not a part of the groupthink’s ideas.  And, it provides a scapegoat on which the negative emotions of the group can focus.


Self-censorship refraining from entertaining thoughts which conflict with the cultural narrative of the group.  This causes members who may have doubts to hide their concerns.   Because the individual becomes integrated into the group, loss of membership would be devastating on many levels.  Loss of membership means loss of significant social and sometimes also business connections.  This fear can extend beyond expulsion and ostracization from the group.  It can include violence.   This is because extremist sects believe that rejecting groupthink dogma warrants is tantamount to rejecting their Supreme Being.  And, it is this relates back to the chosen one mentality.  So, self-censorship of thoughts is paramount.  And, they are aware of the Mind-guards that identify problematic members.


People act as group censors.  This job may be formal or informal.  They circulate in groups of the organization.  These individuals discourage or hide problematic sources and information from members and the group(s).  They inform the leadership of members who may be questioning the boundaries of thought/belief.

Illusions of unanimity

Lead members to believe that everyone in the group is in total agreement.  Public demonstrations and examples use groupthink to align members.

Social Group Psychological Pressure

In order to ensure compliance groupthink requires members to attend frequent meetings.  Here the leader repeats and reinforces the edicts of belief and boundaries.  No matter what superficial reason for the meeting they always circle back to reinforce the underlying themes above.  These meetings are often mandatory.  It is also common to set up small group meetings.  Small group leaders are often also Mind-Guards.  Peer group pressure is a common strategy.  This helps to ensure attendance because it is the continual exposure to these techniques which cements the membership.

In Conclusion

Groupthink manipulation is almost invisible in the modern world.  It permeates the fabric of many so much of the culture that we fail to see it. It becomes a part of the cultural narrative.   Not everyone is willing to acknowledge it even if they do recognize its tactics. Hopefully, more people will begin to how Western Organized Religion uses these tactics to control and oppress.  Even if you still align with the underlying mythologies, you have to admit that brainwashing tactics are being used.  The study of logical reasoning can help people to overcome their natural tendency to protect the boundaries set up by Groupthink manipulation.

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