What Is Hive Mentality

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on February 25, 2024
3 min read

Hive mentality, also known as groupthink, is when a person has a strong tendency to fall for group decision-making. If someone has a hive mentality, they may feel invulnerable and morally correct when they're part of a certain group. They may also not be able to make decisions on their own. They often feel isolated or stressed when making decisions. That’s why they turn to a hive mentality.

Several signs help you identify whether you or someone you know has a hive mentality. There are pros and cons to this thought practice — some are helpful to your mental health, others not so much. Read on to learn more about what it means to think in line with a group.

A hive mentality happens when a person bases their personal decisions on whatever a group generally thinks or believes. Someone with a hive mentality typically considers loyalty to the group a top priority. To them, following the group opinion is much more important than making independent choices. Such a person may find it hard to go against the group's decisions

Another sign typically involves reaching judgments and decisions spurred by the group. These judgments and decisions tend to be more extreme than those held by people who think for themselves. Because a group decides what's right and what's wrong, someone with a hive mentality may not question whether an action is ethical or just. 

In today's opinion-driven society, it's fairly easy to fall in line with a particular group's likes and interests without realizing that our own choices and decisions are based on a hive mentality. Three main causes of makeup hive mentality include: 

  • Easy access to collective information
  • Ability to communicate with anyone anywhere
  • Being able to organize and collect simultaneously as a group

A hive mentality isn’t always negative. It doesn't necessarily mean you can't think for yourself. Having a hive mentality means that your allegiance to a group or cause will outweigh the repercussions of associating with that group. As in all things, a hive mentality has its pros and cons.

Pro: A strong sense of connection with others. Those with a hive mentality feel the strong social connection and mutual trust that forms within a group. Even if the group doesn't meet in person, the sense of social community can be a positive thing. 

Pro: Social capital. Having a broad network of relationships leads to positive health outcomes, offering a greater sense of well-being. Having a collective identity can help you feel satisfied and part of something greater. 

Con: No alternatives. When group decision-making fails to consider better alternatives before reaching a decision, it's considered defective groupthink. Defective decision-making is defined by the following characteristics: 

  • Failure to create backup plans
  • Lack of research 
  • Biased assessment of costs and benefits
  • Not taking full consideration of all decision options

Con: A deterioration of personal judgment. Some people may have difficulty making decisions for themselves and need a group to tell them what attitudes they should adopt. Depending so heavily on the opinion of the group can make your thinking less effective and damage your moral judgment skills

Nowadays, constant access to social media platforms and group messaging makes it easy for anyone to fall in line with the thoughts and opinions of a particular group, especially if it involves a topic you’re interested in.

When you’re in these groups, you may feel confident in your decisions and not think about any consequences, but there are several negative ones to consider. Feeling like you can't have a dissenting opinion from the group or you'll be kicked out is one. This can be tough to accept, especially if you’re emotionally invested in a group. 

Another consequence involves the challenge of separating your own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions from those shared by the group. This may make it difficult to identify problems that affect you personally.

Rather than give in to a hive mentality, you should consider relying on your own thinking skills by making decisions that are based on your own judgment.

If you feel you've adopted a hive mentality and want to break free from it, you can start by identifying the unhealthy traits and behaviors you've adopted. Talking to a mental health professional also helps. By offering guidance and insight, a mental health professional can help you find your identity and ground yourself in your reality. They can also teach you healthy approaches to ethical decision making.