How Groups Rarely Encourage Kindness

Jason Henry
4 min readJan 19, 2020
Photo by Jaime Spaniol on Unsplash

In the battle of the in-group versus the out-group, no one is going to win. As an individual, you will probably agree with that because you know that humans are interdependent.

We rely on each other for so much in this life. I cannot farm my own food, I do not make my own shoes and I should not diagnose my own illnesses (despite my attempts at trying when on WebMD), among a long list of things I depend on others for.

As an individual, you know that everyone has their own gifts and talents. Everyone can do something exceptional when compared to the rest of the population. And there are so many things we need in this world that everyone has an opportunity to excel at something.

And yet, when we put ourselves in groups and groupthink (the phenomenon where a group’s reasoning lacks uncritical viewpoints and tends towards blind acceptance) sets in, a lot of this logical and experiential knowledge goes right out the door for ideas of victimhood, supremacy or perceived morality.

The research illustrates that people are both good and bad. If you’ve been alive long enough, you knew this already. And again, if someone asked you if people were either good or bad, as an individual, you’d say both. That’s the only honest answer there is.

But if I put you in a group, your opinion is likely to shift. In a religious group, you might say that people are sinners and inherently bad. In a nation group, you might say that another nation is full of reprobates. In a fandom, you might drop a scathing review of a competing franchise. In a group defined by gender/sex, you will see one side pitted against the other in a confusing display of hostility.

People in groups don’t seem to be aware that the identities that they cling to in order to define themselves would cease to exist if there wasn’t an opposite or different identity.

Sorry if I’m bursting your political bubble but liberalism and conservatism wouldn’t exist without each other. The identity of being white wouldn’t exist if there weren’t other races. We live in a relative world and there will be those who want to change things and those who want keep things the same just as there are variations in skin tone, ethnicity and culture.

Jason Henry

Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”