What's a better word for what the term 'hugbox' suggests; i.e. an environment in which one is surrounded by likeminded people and as such is likely to have their preconceptions reinforced rather than challenged?

I've always used hugbox colloquially, but as a) the only definition I can find comes from Urban Dictionary and b) it refers to boxes used to calm the hypersensitive, it could be viewed as offensive and certainly unprofessional.

All I can think of is 'feedback loop', but that doesn't seem to fit.

  • 1
    You can consider in-group in a broader sense: a group of people sharing similar interests and attitudes, producing feelings of solidarity, community, and exclusivity. dictionary.com
    – ermanen
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 18:20
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    If the people involved are enthusiastically reinforcing each others' like-minded views, I enjoy the phrase "circle jerk".
    – Robert
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 1:35
  • "it could be viewed as offensive and certainly unprofessional" - You'd be right, thats because it is an insult.
    – user53089
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 5:35
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    Just cause i think it's good to know the origin of the term "hugbox": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hug_machine :)
    – cHao
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 5:37
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    None of the answers here really capture what a "hugbox" is about. It isn't about existing opinions/ideals being reinforced, it's more about criticism of all types being disallowed because they need to maintain "a welcoming community" and criticism (even constructive) is taken as not being "welcoming."
    – fluffy
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 20:46

5 Answers 5


A common expression I've encountered is "echo chamber", in the sense of a room where your own voice is reflected back at you and you don't hear any new voices or ideas.

Here's Wikipedia on the topic:

In media, an echo chamber is a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an "enclosed" system, where different or competing views are censored or disallowed.


Participants in online communities may find their own opinions constantly echoed back to them, which reinforces their individual belief systems


"Group Think" would describe the action of what you're describing but not the location. Another phrase that may be useful is "to go along with the herd".


Not a single word, but sometimes I've heard the phrase surrounded by yes-men.

From a recent interview:

I can tell you these network anchors are surrounded sometimes by what we call yes-men, yes-people who won't tell them the hard truths or raise questions .. Who wants to tell emperor that he's wearing no clothes?

and from a blog post entitled Say No to Yes Men:

For as long as I can remember, I have worked in organizations where I’ve seen the negative implications of “Yes Men.” By “Yes Men,” I’m referring to those individuals on a team, in an organization or in an environment where the only thing they will do is say “Yes” to their boss.

If a leader wants to be truly successful they must be willing to say “No” to “Yes Men.”


As the term "hugbox" has not, as of yet, been entered into the Oxford English Dictionary or Webster's, "groupthink" appears to be the most appropriate synonym with the definition closest to that which is most commonly implied by use of the term "hugbox."

That said, the matter of either of these words, or any word, being more or less offensive is entirely subjective, varying from individual to individual. While you may wish to take this into consideration for diplomatic reasons, concise communication of thoughts and ideas is the goal of any language.

Although it is probable that either of these words would be found offensive by people who fit the definition of being in a hugbox or influenced by groupthink, as the very nature of such implies that these individuals bear a strong resistance to challenging ideas—including the very idea of accepting that one is in a hugbox; you must choose for yourself whether to place a higher priority on reaching communication with someone or else forgo your attempt to reach an understanding because you feel there is a risk that the individual(s) you are speaking to are not also willing to communicate.

It is important to differentiate between communication and being insensitive. There seems to be a lot of confusion between the two and you really do not have to sacrifice your willingness to communicate or use the English language. Communication involves two or more participants and each participant is entirely responsible for their decision to participate. You do not have the ability to make this decision for others. Nor do you have the right.

That we have agreed to definitions attributed to words is what makes this form of communication possible. The best that you can do is adhere to the language while conveying your thoughts to others. In doing so, you offer them the opportunity to do the same. If they choose otherwise or for whatever reason are not able to do so, then you must accept that it will not be possible to communicate with such people by means of language.

So as "hugbox" has become a popular term with meaning similar to that of "groupthink" (although differing in its usage because a hugbox is generally used in reference to the group or setting itself), I am casting my vote in favor of using the original term "hugbox" if you feel that it most appropriately conveys your message.


"Hugbox" might be too broad to find a proper synonym for. Without context for why the situation occurred, it's hard to find adjectives that are useful.

What you may be able to do is break down the hugbox scenario into things like denial-box (where people deny everything they don't agree with), convenient-isolation-box (where you are estranged from being properly grounded in reality by the convenience of not having to look at anything from an outside perspective), only-positive-feedback-box (creative person surrounded by people that either can't or don't offer criticism), etc.

Edit: Skymall suggests "Social insulation".

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