Groupthinkpsychologist Irving Janis in 1972 to describe one process by which a group can make bad or irrational decisions. In a groupthink situation, each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group. This results in a situation in which the group ultimately agrees on an action which each member might normally consider to be unwise.
Janis' original definition of the term was "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action." The word groupthink was intended to be reminiscent of George Orwell's coinages (such as doublethink and duckspeak) from the fictional language Newspeak, which he portrayed in his ideological novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Groupthink tends to occur on committees and in large organizations, and has been cited as a contributing factor in the Vietnam War, Bay of Pigs Invasion, both the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the bankruptcy of Enron, and more recently, the Congress' decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003.
Signs of groupthink include:
- Examining few alternatives
- Not seeking expert or outside opinions
- Being highly selective in gathering information (See confirmation bias and selection bias)
- An illusion of invulnerability
- Strong belief in group's inherent morality
- Rationalizing poor decisions (See cognitive dissonance)
- Pressure to conform within group; members withold criticisms
- Pressure to protect group from negative views or information
- Overt external or internal pressure to come to a decision
- Individual group members look to each other to confirm theories
An alternative to groupthink is a formal consensus decision-making process, which works best in a group whose aims are cooperative rather than competitive, where trust is able to build up, and where participants are willing to learn and apply facilitation skills.
|Table of contents|
2 See also
3 External links