I know there's a term for it, but it's on the tip of my tongue:

If there's a team of people, and someone says "any objections?", everyone in the team feels compelled to say "yes", even though they might have objections (because they are in a group environment)

What is the term for that phenomenon?

  • 2
    Herd mentality? Jul 24, 2020 at 17:23
  • @YosefBaskin No, I'm not thinking herd mentality. Jul 24, 2020 at 18:14
  • 2
    "groupthink" is another popular term for what you describe (and synonymous with @Yosef's suggestion).
    – Mitch
    Jul 24, 2020 at 18:50
  • Capitulate, Pluralistic ignorance, Groupthink... Kind of similar question Jul 24, 2020 at 19:13
  • @Mitch No, groupthink occurs under the pressure of a general concern, which is the importance that has been granted to cohesion; it is insofar different from what is termed the Abilene paradox, that latter term describing truly, as I see it, sheep-like behaviour", in other words, herd mentality.
    – LPH
    Jul 24, 2020 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


Is peer pressure the phrase you're looking for? While it can also mean someone directly pressuring their peer into something, I believe it covers your example of pressure to agree with the group.

(I just saw that you answered your own question with "the Abilene paradox" so if this is irrelevant now, feel free to ignore it.)

  • It depends on what you conceive this "pressure" to be; if it is nothing else than the brandishing of negative votes and telling you how insignificant and worthless you are in not adhering to the main stream idea, then yes, let's talk of peer pressure as a force making for sheep-like behaviour, herd mentality. However, if you conceive the pressure as rational, convincing argumentation -- what is more likely the case -- then no, that has nothing to do with peer pressure.
    – LPH
    Jul 24, 2020 at 18:58
  • @LPH Excuse me-- a peer can very well be the bearer of a rational argument. Would you please explain why the term "peer pressure" cannot be applied to this force?
    – Conrado
    Jul 24, 2020 at 19:07
  • @Conrado Your words make no sense: I am not at all saying that a peer can't be the propounder of a rational argument (I'd be crazy to say that.). There is no question of applying the term "peer pressure" to whatever force and "peer pressure" in any case can't be but the cause, and the behaviour of those affected by it can't be but an effect of it. Anyway, this answer identifies the cause of something to that very thing, the effect; that can't do.
    – LPH
    Jul 24, 2020 at 19:16
  • @LPH It took me a couple rereads to understand what you're saying, but I think I get it. Peer pressure is the force that causes people to agree with the group. The effect, that is, the behavior of those people, cannot be labeled as peer pressure.
    – Kira
    Jul 24, 2020 at 19:21
  • @Kira Yes, that is almost what I meant; the difference is that this is as you say only if we consider peer pressure as browbeating people, cowing them, and I do not believe peer pressure can have been conceived as such. I consider instead that the pressure meant in "peer pressure" is purely an intellectual one, as should, by the way, anyone with two cents worth of common sense.
    – LPH
    Jul 24, 2020 at 19:30

I found the term - It's called the Abilene paradox: In the Abilene paradox, a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many or all of the individuals in the group.

  • The term "Abilene paradox" is nothing but a nice guise for the common terms "herd mentality", "sheep-like behaviour" and the like. The explanation goes on "It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group's and, therefore, does not raise objections". There is no other reason mentioned but that of an overwhelming majority that is against you…
    – LPH
    Jul 24, 2020 at 19:07

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