As defined by psychology today:
Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible. The problematic or premature consensus that is characteristic of groupthink may be fueled by a particular agenda—or it may be due to group members valuing harmony and coherence above critical thought.
To recognize groupthink, it’s useful to identify the situations in which it’s most likely to occur. When groups feel threatened—either physically or through threats to their identity—they may develop a strong “us versus them” mentality. This can prompt members to accept group perspectives, even when those perspectives don’t necessarily align with their personal views. Groupthink may also occur in situations in which decision-making is rushed—in some cases, with destructive outcomes.
To minimize the risk, it’s critical to allow enough time for issues to be fully discussed, and for as many group members as possible to share their thoughts. When dissent is encouraged, groupthink is less likely to occur. Learning about common cognitive biases, as well as how to identify them, may also reduce the likelihood of groupthink.
At the extreme end of groupthink, we encounter what is called mass formation psychosis. Psychosis is when people lose some contact with reality. Mass formation psychosis is when a large part of a society focuses its attention to a leader(s) or a series of events and their attention focuses on one small point or issue. Followers can be hypnotized and be led anywhere, regardless of data proving otherwise.
The “traditional path” is not for everyone. All people are different and what is good for one person, may not be good for another. Forcing people to conform, or even pressuring people into conforming can be detrimental to one’s well-being.
This can affect one’s mental health in various ways, including leading to depression, anxiety, and increased stress. Clearly, it can be stressful to have society pressuring one to do something and follow in a path that they do not want to do. It can be depressing and anxiety-provoking, if someone chooses to follow a “traditional path” that they do not feel, is right for them.
It is best to allow people to have autonomy over their own lives. Allowing individual self-determination and the ability to decide what they want out of their life and how they want to live their life is critical for experiencing overall positive well-being.
When individuals are pressured to conform to society and follow a “traditional path” it can lead to increased stress, depression, anxiety, and other negative reactions. This pressure from society can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health.