Saturday, June 5, 2010

Groupthink, by Irving L. Janis
 - Published in Psychology Today, Nov. 1971 – Stanford University



Groupthink is a psychological terminology used to describe the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.  It refers to a deterioration in mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgments as a result of group pressures. Photo 

The symptoms of groupthink arise when the members of decision-making groups become motivated to avoid being too harsh in their judgments of their leaders' or their colleagues' ideas.  People would adopt a soft line of criticism and avoid conflict, even in their own thinking.  At meetings, all members are amiable and seek complete concurrence, which is likely to be recognized erroneously as consensus, on every important issue…

 Pressure:  Victims of groupthink also apply direct pressure to any individual who momentarily expresses doubts about any of the group's shared illusions, or who questions the validity of the arguments supporting a policy alternative favored by the majority.

Self-censorship:  Victims of groupthink avoid deviating from what appears to be group consensus.  They keep silent about their misgivings and even minimize to themselves the importance of their doubts…

Pressure: ...

Self-censorship: ...

Unanimity: ... 

Invulnerability:  Most or all of the members of the ingroup share an illusion of invulnerability that provides for them some degree of reassurance about obvious dangers and leads them to become over-optimistic and willing to take extraordinary risks.  

Rationale:  No only do victims of groupthink ignore warnings, but they collectively construct rationalizations in order to discount warnings and other forms of negative feedback that, taken seriously, might lead the group to reconsider their assumptions each time they recommit themselves to past decisions.

Morality:  Victims of groupthink believe unquestioningly in the inherent morality of their ingroup.  To the extreme end, this belief could incline the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. 

Stereotypes: …

Mindguards: …

Remedies for Groupthink

Read complete report - Groupthink, by Irving L. Janis
 - Published in Psychology Today, Nov. 1971 – Stanford University

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