Groupthink 2.0: An empirical analysis of customers' conformity-seeking in online communities

Jan Breitsohl, James Peter Wilcox, Ian Harris

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Online communities have witnessed an ongoing interest from both digital practitioners and scholars alike. Whilst the motives for and outcomes of customers’ participation have been convincingly evidenced, there is a lack of conceptual and empirical understanding on the decision-making processes within virtual groups. This study employs Janis’ (1972) Groupthink theory to investigate customers’ tendency to conform when making decisions in a financial online community. Based on a sample of 343 respondents and multiple regression analysis, it is shown that perceived stress and group insulation have a positive influence upon groupthink, whilst group cohesion has a negative effect. The findings support the applicability of Groupthink theory in an online context and emphasise defective social decision-making processes in online communities as key priority for future research. Digital marketers gain insight on strategies to manage their customers’ conformity-seeking tendencies and to prevent dysfunctional decision-making processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Customer Behaviour
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2015


  • Online community
  • Groupthink
  • Conformity
  • Virtual groups
  • Group psychology


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