Actively Open-Minded Thinking and Corruption

BY: Enyonan Canice Kudonoo, Ph.D

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” —Walter Lippman

In countries where corruption is prevalent, cronyism and groupthink often rear their ugly heads. Political parties take entrenched positions, and instead of governing parties working together with opposition parties for the common good, they rather work towards the downfall of each other at the expense of the citizenry.

Leaders and party members become close-minded thinkers and lose sight of their blindsides inhibiting their ability to consider alternatives from outside their groups. By doing this, they deny themselves the opportunity to select the best from a pool of rich diverse ideas that may address prevailing teething issues that plague the nation.

The notion is always “us against them” to the neglect of the needs of the masses. This article, therefore, concurs with Walter Lippman’s assertion that “When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” Good solutions are shortchanged with myopic ones fraught with negative rippling effects that cascade to the citizenry. This issue pays attention to actively open-minded thinking and how it may positively influence corrupt individuals to perform better.

Close Minded Thinking and Corruption

According to Wastell et al., close-mindedness is the propensity to stop searching for more information once an individual has adopted a preferred position. This occurs because of the individual’s beliefs, the dominant consensus in the individual’s group, and the ideological views of the group, among others. Close- mindedness discourages people from looking for more information because the adopted stand is the group’s preferred one - resulting in groupthink.

According to Kendra Cherry, a close-minded person tends to be rigid, narrow-minded, and adamant about learning new things. Such people only pay attention to their own viewpoints and get rid of any other viewpoint. Close-mindedness blocks access to rich external ideas in the group, breeds corrupt behaviours, makes people myopic and delusional, and as a result, sees anyone who challenges their ideas as an arch enemy. Such people care more about being understood than understanding others, and resultantly, develop a despotic and domineering demeanour.

Close-minded domineering and opinionated individuals control discussions in groups or their political parties, ensuring other group members cower into submission. They also ensure that anyone who dares to play the devil’s advocate becomes a target of attack. They may lobby and buy people’s conscience to win the majority’s support while inhibiting others from sharing their views.

Consequently, other group members are unable to use their creative and innovative abilities; their ethical stands are compromised, and are unable to perform their civic duties effectively. Followers in such situations may become “nodding lizards” who do not want to incur the displeasure of their leaders. These attitudes possibly lead to the collapse of organisations and nations. The solution to such occurrences is the active fostering of critical thinking, qualitative and quantitative reasoning, creativity and innovation by open-minded thinkers.

Actively Open-Minded Thinking

Kendra Cherry explained open-mindedness as a positive quality that makes people think critically and rationally. It enables people to be open to diverse ideas, arguments and information. It equips one with the ability to learn, grow and change using information received from feedback. However, care must be taken to avoid mental discomfort (cognitive dissonance) caused by conflicting beliefs and values.

The concept of actively open-minded thinking (AOT), according to Jonathan Baron, ensures people assess their way of thinking and those of others using laid-down criteria or standards.

He came out with three important ways AOT positively impacts good leadership decision-making: 1) it serves as a guide to individuals who have aspirations towards making political decisions; 2) it provides people the opportunity to perceive open-minded thinking as a universal social norm and also, 3) serves as a criterion for identifying honesty and trustworthy sources, including politicians with good standing and individuals who are very knowledgeable and experienced equipped with the wherewithal to provide valuable ideas that address issues for the common good.

An actively open-minded thinker is a learner who is humble and open to new ideas, very secure, confident, and knows what he/she is about, as well as broad-minded and very sensitive to the needs of others. Such a person possesses the intention of positively impacting the populace with his/her good decisions for sustainable development.


Recently, the accelerated nature of changes occurring in the world inspires the need for people to be open-minded thinkers as open-minded thinking enables people to gain insight into emergent issues and helps them gain new experiences as a result of exploring new ideas; thus, leading to learning and growth.

Open-minded thinking makes people mentally strong and more optimistic in life. It is by gaining such mental strength and optimism that people are able to thrive in these difficult times. It is proposed that those occupying positions of authority should give actively open-minded thinking a try to accrue the benefits thereof for good decision making leading to sustainable development.