General Question

inunsure's avatar

How do people argue in groups and is it different at all?

Asked by inunsure (423points) December 7th, 2011

Just from observation is seems like people who are in a group so like Question time with David Dimbleby, the audience and panellist seems to argue differently than I’d expect normal people would lets say if it was between you and one other person.

Could you find me anything book, online video, etc to explain some of the details of how being in a group like this changes your psychology when arguing

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4 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

You don’t describe what you mean by arguing, but this article describes the process by which groups tend to polarize their collective point of view.

gailcalled's avatar

I spent years in a Quaker community and watched how they ran committees and large groups. There was expectations and a code of behavior that was based on respect.

You listened, you didn’t interrupt, you didn’t rush in, you kept your voice calm and reasonable, you didn’t take more of your share of podium space, you ruminated and you learned about consensus. The Clerk was the equivalent of the chairman.

The word “argue” has a combative and belligerent connotation.

Quakers discuss and then reach consensus.

Here’s a typical description of how to behave at a Quaker meeting for business.

One particularly interesting point.

“How do I express disagreement with what others have said?

Business meetings are not debates; no Friend has a monopoly of the truth or is certain to be proposing the best action.

Each Friend who feels led to speak should, concisely and clearly, give his or her view. It does not matter if this is a different view from what everyone else has said.

It is not good practice however to argue with a particular Friend or snipe at others’ suggestions.

If feelings are running high on a subject the Clerk might stand, in which case anyone speaking should stop. The Clerk, or any Friend for that matter, might call for a period of reflective silence.” Source

If anyone felt himself getting particularly hot under the collar, it was acceptable to go out and chop wood or repaint the social room of the meeting house.

lifeflame's avatar

Wow, I would love to watch and participate in the Quaker discussion towards consensus. Did it work? I wish or parliamentary and legal systems worked that way…

gailcalled's avatar

@lifeflame: Yes. It is amazingly successful. I was involved with a Quaker School and Meeting in Philadelphia for over a decade. If you are a birthright Friend or simply espouse the cause, you abide by what they call Faith and Practice.

The schools and meetings in the NE US are much more liberal theologically than in the MW and west coast. So I, as an intellectual secular Jew, felt very comfortable both in Meeting for Worship and Meeting for Business.

Google The Philadelphia Society of Friends for more details. Everyone is worthy of respect and the silence has enormous power.

As a secular Jew, I loved the weekly Quaker meeting for Worship, both on Sunday and at school, on Thursdays. The upper school facility meetings were models of civility.

Not everyone has the temperament for this; but if you do, you can really beat your swords into plowshares.

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