Group Thinking

"We shall need to utilize the power of group thinking to offset our normalcy bias and figure out what to do about the climate crisis."

"Dialogue not only creates a sense of community, it also has the power to break the stranglehold of normalcy bias and replace it with relevant truth."

~ John Burch

"We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together, we have to talk."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Not this

Normalcy Bias


Group discussions to offset the power of normalcy bias.

The result

Celebrating life.

Group Thinking and Conversations: Counteracting Normalcy Bias in Facing Climate Crisis

Human sociology is characterized by a spectrum of cognitive biases that, while often instinctively helpful, can limit our ability to respond effectively to significant, systemic challenges. One such inclination is the normalcy bias, a mental state people often enter when facing a disaster. It leads us to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster happening and its potential adverse effects, largely due to our inherent preference for maintaining the status quo. This bias can be debilitating when it comes to addressing issues like the climate crisis. However, the power of collective thinking and conversations that matter can help uproot this habitual passivity and spur proactive responses.

Understanding Normalcy Bias and the Climate Crisis

The normalcy bias is a cognitive bias that compels individuals to dismiss the possibility of a catastrophe occurring to them, leading to an absence of preemptive actions and preparations, even in the face of strong evidence. People mainly project their present circumstances onto the future, considerably underestimating the potential for disaster. This ignorance is not bliss in the narrative of the climate crisis; it's a formidable enemy.

The escalating climate crisis is a demonstrable reality with both scientific data and real-world phenomena bearing testament. Yet, the urgency to act decisively and globally is somewhat dampened by the pervasiveness of normalcy bias. For decades, societies have perceived climate change as a distant threat, failing to appreciate fully its immediate impacts and inherent urgency.

Harnessing Group Thinking and Conversations

Human beings, by nature, are social creatures. The unique ability to communicate, share ideas, and challenge each other's perspectives forms the framework for group thinking. This can be a critical tool in combating cognitive biases, including the normalcy bias.

Group thinking can catalyze confirmation that a problem exists. Where individuals harbor doubts about climate change, engaging in group discussions can expose them to diverse viewpoints and empirical evidence that might otherwise be ignored.

Simultaneously, group conversations induce a sense of shared responsibility. The climate crisis is a global issue that requires collective action. Shattering the siloed thinking engraved by normalcy bias relies heavily on the acknowledgement of this shared responsibility, an understanding group discussions promote.

Increasing The Quality Of Conversations

The quality of group thinking and dialogue is as crucial as the act itself. Conversations that matter go beyond mundane exchanges to encourage people to think critically, question existing norms, and come up with innovative solutions collectively.

In dealing with the climate crisis, discussions that facilitate a deep understanding of the problem, contextualize scientific evidence, debate policies, and examine potential solutions are vital to combat the normalcy bias. Driving home the immediacy and severity of the issue can galvanize collective action, impelling a shift from rhetoric to execution.

Learning platforms, both online and offline, help to instigate these conversations. Also, curating spaces that foster empathetic and informed communication can help challenge cognitive bias and push towards decisive and sustained action against climate change.

Harnessing the Media

The media plays an essential role in mitigating the normalcy bias, as it is a primary source of information for many. Priming media narratives to be explicit about the urgency of climate change and promoting proactive conversations and debates is key.

Constructive journalism that promotes solution-oriented narratives helps to propel this dialogue in the mainstream and stimulate collective responses. Moreover, featuring local narratives in global discourse can serve to reinforce climate change's immediacy and potential impacts.


Ripple effects, no matter how small, can instigate massive shifts. Each conversation that matters; each piece of knowledge shared; each norm challenged contributes to eroding the normalcy bias's stronghold. In collective thinking and conversations, we find the most human tool to counteract this bias. It is through these instruments of dialogue and shared understanding that humanity can offset the chains of normalcy bias, deciding to respond decisively to the climate crisis. Remember, every effective action against climate change begins with a recognition and conversation about its immediacy and severity.

Breaking the Power of Normalcy Bias through Dialogue and Group Thinking: A research article with references.

Normalcy bias is a ubiquitous afflictive psychological phenomenon that could potentially become an impediment to tackling global challenges such as climate change. It is defined as a cognitive predisposition whereby individuals underestimate or dismiss the probability of a disaster occurring and its possible impacts due to their reliance on past experiences and misconceptions about the normal order of things (Paton, 2003). It is high time we explore the potential power of dialogue and group thinking as tools to offset this dangerous bias.

To address this challenge, we need to understand the fundamental psychology of group mindsets. Groups tend to converge on dominant or shared ideas, a phenomenon known as Groupthink (Janis, 1972). Typically, groupthink predisposes collective reasoning towards uniformity that suppresses differing viewpoints and creates an environment where normalcy bias can thrive. However, more recent research indicates that when properly facilitated and managed, group discussion can lead to innovative thinking, contradiction resolution, and bias reduction (Nemeth, 2012).

Essentially, conversations play a pivotal role in breaking the power of normalcy bias. As proposed by Bohm, dialogue can be a transformative tool. Bohmian dialogue encourages a group to investigate the collective thought process, explore underlying assumptions and preconceptions, and eventually question and amend biased viewpoints (Bohm et al., 1991).

In the context of climate change, although the scientific consensus is strong, the normalcy bias keeps many people from appreciating the severity and immediacy of the threat. This inability to respond appropriately can directly counteract global climate response initiatives. Hence, stimulating dialogue and reflection about the climate crisis, its implications, and our skewed perceptions of it could be a particularly effective measure.

Practical examples of groups effectively mitigating normalcy bias through dialogue can be seen in the Citizen’s Assemblies on Climate Change. For instance, France's Citizen's Convention on Climate leveraged collective intelligence to develop a unique set of legislative measures that significantly deviate from the 'normal' policy prescriptions (Dryzek et al., 2020).

Drawing from theories such as Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), Climate Change Communication (Moser, 2010), and the Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte, 1992), the following strategies could be employed to foster effective dialogue and positive group influence in offsetting normalcy bias concerning climate change:

1. Foster Identity: Aligning climate action with the social identity of groups can create intrinsic motivation to act against climate change.
2. Promote Constructive Dialogue: Facilitate open-ended conversation that allows questioning, brainstorming, and mutual learning.
3. Encourage Empathy: Empathic communication strategies can elicit emotional engagement and a more profound understanding of the crisis.
4. Utilize Appropriate Fear Appeals: Balance the severity of climate threats with a strong sense of efficacy to act upon them.

Together, these strategies aim to transform group thinking from a source reinforcing the normalcy bias to a tool that fosters creative initiative and mitigates the crisis. The dire reality of climate change calls for an urgent reconception of our approach to our biases and their challenging effects. By fostering constructive group mindsets and engaging in transformative dialogue, humanity can counteract normalcy bias and foster a proactive response to the climate crisis.


- Bohm, D., Factor, D., & Garrett, P. (1991). Dialogue - A proposal.
- Dryzek, J., S., et al. (2020). The crisis of democracy and the science of deliberation. Science, 363(6432), 1144-1146.
- Janis, I., L. (1972). Victims of Groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes.
- Moser, S., C. (2010). Communicating climate change: history, challenges, process, and future directions. WIREs Climate Change, 1(1), 31-53.
- Nemeth, C., (2012). Minority Influence Theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology, Volume 2 (pp.362-378). Sage.
- Paton, D., (2003). Disaster preparedness: a social-cognitive perspective. Disaster Prevention and Management, 12(3), 210-216.
- Tajfel, H., & Turner, J., C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 33-47). Brooks/Cole.
- Witte, K. (1992). Putting the fear back into fear appeals: The extended parallel process model. Communication Monographs, 59(4), 329-349.

One Earth One Chance

Please Share this website with everyone you know.
Thank You!