CHAPTER 14: GROUPTHINK - Coggle Diagram
CHAPTER 14: GROUPTHINK
What is Groupthink?
The term was first used in 1972 by social psychologist Irving L. Janis. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group.
Assumptions of Groupthink
- Janis focuses his work onproblem-solving groupsandtask-oriented groups, whose main purpose is to make decisions and give policy recommendations.
- Other activities of small groups include information sharing, socializing, relating to people and groups external to the group
The Second assumption
- Examine the process of problem solving in small group: it is usually a unified undertaking
- By this, we mean that people are not underscores the nature of most problem-solving and task-oriented groups to which people belong: They are usually complex.
- In discussing this assumption, let’s first look at the complexity of small groups and then at the decisions emerging from these groups
The third assumption
- underscores the nature of most problem-solving and task-oriented groups to which people belong:
They are usually complex.
- In discussing this assumption, let’s first look at the complexity of small groups and then at the decisions emerging from these groups.
- First, small group members must continue to understand the many alternatives available to them and be able to distinguish among these alternatives.
- look at the complexity of small groups and then at the decisions emerging from these groups
- We term this group similarity homogeneity. So, as we mentioned earlier, the board of directors at Melton is homogeneous
- in its backgrounds—they are all part of literary inner circles. This similarity is one characteristic that can foster groupthink.
Cohesiveness is also an antecedent condition. You may be wondering how cohesiveness can lead to groupthink. One reason this may be perplexing is that cohesion differs from one group to another, and different levels of cohesion produce different results. In some groups, cohesion can lead to positive
feelings about the group experience and the other group members.
Janis notes that specific structural characteristics, or faults, promote groupthink. They include
(1) insulation of the group
(2) lack of impartial leadership
(3) lack of clear procedures for decisions
(4) homogeneity of group members’ backgrounds.
Group insulation refers to a group’s ability to be unaffected by the outside world and its happenings.
- it is very easy for insulation to occur if group members do not solicit the opinions or views of those external to the group.
- In fact, they may be discussing issues that have relevance in the outside world, and yet the members are insulated from its influence.
- People outside the group who could help with the decision may even be present in the organization but not asked to participate.
A lack of impartial leadership means that group
- members are led by people who have a personal interest in the outcome.
Lack of decision-making procedures and similarity of group members.
- First, some groups have few, if any, procedures for decision making; failing to have previously established norms for evaluation of problems can foster groupthink.
- Groups, therefore, may be influenced by dominant voices and go along with those who choose to speak up.
- Other groups may simply follow what they have observed and experienced in previous groups.
homogeneity of members’ backgrounds.
- Janis (1982) notes that “lack of disparity in social background and ideology among the members of a cohesive group makes it easier for them to concur on whatever proposals are put forth by the leader”.
- Without diversity of background and experience, it may be difficult to debate critical issues.
- The final antecedent condition of groupthink pertains to the stress on the group that is, stress on the group may evoke groupthink.
- Stress occurs when group members are influenced by issues, resources, or events both within and external to the group.
- When stress is high, group members may not see any reasonable solution and therefore, rally around their leader.
- When decision makers are under great stress imposedby forces outside the group, faulty decision making happens.
- Stress, as explained in this theory, is a comprehensive concept in that it includes both internal and external stress
Symptoms of Groupthink
- Preexisting conditions lead groups to concurrence seeking.
- Concurrence seeking occurs when groups try to reach consensus in their final decision.
- Consider the interpretation of consensus seeking from Andrea Hollingshead and her colleagues (2005)
- Groupthink teams place such a high priority on supporting each other emotionally internal and external stress pressure exerted on the group by issues and events both inside and outside of the group concurrence seeking efforts to search out group consensus
Janis (1982) observes three categories of symptoms of Groupthink
- overestimation of the group,
- pressures toward uniformity.
An overestimation of the group includes those behaviors that suggest the group believes it is more than it is.Two specific symptoms exist in this category:
- illusion of invulnerability
- a belief in the inherent morality of the group.
For Illusion of Invulnerability
Belief in the Inherent Morality of the Group
- The illusion of invulnerability can be defined as a group’s belief that they are special enough to overcome any obstacles or setbacks. The group believes it is invincible.
- The group, overestimation of the group erroneous belief that the group is more than it is illusion of invulnerability belief that the group is special enough to overcome obstacles Theory-Into-Practice Groupthink
- Theoretical Claim: The groupthink symptom, illusion of unanimity, is frequently unconsciously undertaken by those who are shy, inexperienced, or reticent to speak up.
- When group members have a belief in the inherent morality of the group, they are said to adopt the position that “we are a good and wise group”.
- Because the group perceives itself to be good, they believe that their decision making must, therefore, be good.
- By embracing this belief, group members purge themselves of any shame or guilt, although they ignore any ethical or moral implications of their decision.
- When a group is closed-minded, it ignores outside influences on the group.
- The two symptoms discussed by Janis in this category are stereotypes of
- out-groups Stereotypes
- collective rationalization.
- Groups in crisis frequently engage in out-group stereotypes, which are stereotyped perceptions of rivals or enemies.
- These stereotypes underscore the fact that any adversaries are either too weak or too stupid to counter offensive tactics.
- It was this stereotype that kept the advisors from seeing the enemy as people.
- The fourth symptom of Groupthink, collective rationalization, refers to the situation in which group members ignore warnings that might prompt them to reconsider their thoughts and actions before they reach a final decision.
- In most circumstances, this symptom can also be interpreted to be a rationalization of “bad news.”
Pressures Toward Uniformity
- The pressure toward uniformity can be enormous for some groups.
- Janis believed that some groups who go along to get along may be setting themselves up for group think.
- The four symptoms in this category are:
- an illusion of unanimity
- the presence of self-appointed mindguards,
- direct pressure on dissenters.
Self-censorship refers to group members’ tendency to minimize their doubts and counterarguments. They begin to second-guess their own ideas.llusion of Unanimity
The sixth symptom of Groupthink is an illusion of unanimity, which suggests that silence is consent.Self-Appointed Mindguards
Groups in crisis may include self-appointed mindguards, group members who shield the group from adverse information. Mindguards believe that they act in the group’s best interest.Pressures on Dissenters
The final symptom involves pressuring any group member who expresses opinions, viewpoints, or commitments that are contrary to the majority opinion.
Think Before You Act: Ways to Prevent Groupthink It bears repeating:
Require Oversight and Control Establish a parliamentary committee:Develop resources to proactively monitor ongoing policy ventures; establish incentives to intervene; link personal fate to fate of group members.
Embrace Whistle-Blowing Voice doubts: Avoid suppressing concerns about group processes; continue to disagree and debate when no satisfactory answers are given; question assumptions.
Allow for Objection Protect conscientious objectors: Provide for group members’ exits; do not play down the moral implications of a course of action acknowledge private concerns about ethical issues in the group.
Balance Consensus and Majority Rule Alter rules governing choice: Relieve pressure on groups in minority positions; dissuade the development of subgroups; introduce a multiple advocacy approach to decisions.
Integration, Critique, and Closing
- Groupthink is a theory dedicated to understanding the decision-making process in small groups.
- The theory has been tested and expanded using experimental methods, making it aligned with a quantitative approach.
- Janis believes that groups frequentlymake decisions with profound consequences, and although he focused his efforts on foreign-policy groups,
- The application of Groupthink terminology resonates in many other decision-making groups.
- Among the criteria for evaluating a theory, four are especially relevant for discussion: scope, testability, heurism, and test of time.
- scholars have pointed to some validity problems with the theory, calling into question its testability.
- For instance, the validity of the theory. They argue that half of the symptoms of Groupthink are not associated with concurrence seeking a key feature of the theory.
- They charge that “a theory should be a logical progression of ideas, not a grab-bag of phenomena that were correlated with each other
Test of Time
- The theory of Groupthink is a heuristic undertaking; - The theory and many of its elements have been employed in a number of studies and have enjoyed the attention of many communication and social psychology scholars.
- In addition to foreign-policy decisions, writers have studied Groupthink and applied its concepts and tenets to the economic and social crises in Europe
- The theory of Groupthink has withstood the test of time.
- Scholars continue to investigate many of features of the theory and the theory has gained both academic and popular attention.
- Groupthink may be more intuitively appealing than empirically driven.
- The theory, however, continues to receive attention in research as well as in the popular press.
- In fact, Janis’s thinking on Groupthink has been quite influential in several fields of study, including communication, cognitive and social psychology, anthropology, and political science.