What Is Groupthink?


What Is Groupthink?

Groupthink is a term developed by social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972 to describe suboptimal decisions made by a group due to group social pressures.

It is a phenomenon in which the ways of approaching problems or matters are dealt by the consensusNetworking and Building Relationships (Part 1)This article is part of a series of useful tips to help you find success in networking within your company.

Networking plays an important part in our professional lives, starting from our job search, contiuing to joining and working in a company, and finally, advancing our careers. of a group rather than by individuals acting independently. Essentially, groupthink occurs when a group makes faulty or ineffective decisions just for the sake of reaching an agreement.

Example of Groupthink

Let us consider an example in a business setting.

There are four mutual fund managers – Jeffery, John, Jack, and Jane – who are each in charge of a mutual fundMutual FundsA mutual fund is a pool of money collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in stocks, bonds, or other securities.

Mutual funds are owned by a group of investors and managed by professionals. Learn about the various types of fund, how they work, and benefits and tradeoffs of investing in them for Company A.

The four fund managers meet bi-weekly to discuss investing strategiesStock Investment StrategiesStock investment strategies pertain to the different types of stock investing. These strategies are namely value, growth and index investing.

The strategy an investor chooses is affected by a number of factors, such as the investor’s financial situation, investing goals, and risk tolerance.

and their top picksBlue ChipA blue chip is a stock of a well-established corporation with a reputation for reliability, quality, and financial stability. Blue chip stocks are usually the market leaders in their sectors and have a market capitalization running into billions of dollars. of the week. In addition, each of the four individuals trusts each other’s judgment.

During one of their bi-weekly meetings, Jeffery announces that he plans to make a large buy of shares of a company, as he thinks the company shows strong fundamentals.

The other fund managers, John, Jack, and Jane, decide to go along with the plan and buy shares for their own mutual funds without doing individual research on the company in question.

A couple of weeks later, shares of the company drop by 80%.

In the example above, the fund managers became victims of groupthink as they followed the consensus of the group rather than independently analyzing the company proposed by Jeffery. Therefore, the fund managers failed to point out or critique the flaws in Jeffrey’s thinking.

Symptoms of Groupthink

Irving Janis described the eight symptoms of groupthink:

1. Invulnerability

Members of the group share an illusion of invulnerability that creates excessive optimism and encourages taking abnormal risks.

2. Rationale

Victims of this behavior ignore and discount warnings and negative feedback that may cause the group to reconsider their previous assumptions.

3. Morality

Victims ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions and believe unquestionably in the morality of their in-group.

4. Stereotypes

Members of the group possess negative and/or stereotypical views of their “enemies”.

5. Pressure

Victims apply direct pressure to any individual who momentarily expresses concern or doubt about the group’s shared views. Members are not able to express their own individual arguments against the group.

6. Self-censorship

Victims avoid deviating from what the group consensus is and keep quiet. Doubts and concerns about the group are not expressed and victims of groupthink may undermine the importance or validity of their doubts.

7. Illusion of Unanimity

Victims of groupthink share an illusion of unanimity – that the majority view and judgments of the group are unanimous.

8. Mind Guards

Victims of groupthink may appoint themselves to protect the group and the group leader from information that may be problematic or contradictory to the group’s views, decisions, or cohesiveness.

The Impact of Groupthink

Groupthink, in essence, values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical thinking of individual members.

It creates a group where individual members of the group are unable to express their own thoughts and concern, and unquestioningly follow the word of the leader.

For example, think of a corporate meeting where the members of the board just nod in agreement instead of challenging the ideas proposed.

Therefore, the impact of groupthink includes the following:

  • Bad decisions due to lack of opposition
  • Lack of creativity
  • Overconfidence in groupthink negatively impacts the profitability of an organization
  • Optimal solutions to problems may be overlooked
  • Lack of feedback on decisions and hence poor decision-making

Real-world Example

The following example demonstrates how destructive groupthink is by accepting the ideas of a group without critically questioning it.

The attack on Pearl Harbor is an excellent example of groupthink.

Despite the interception of Japanese messages, US naval officers based in Hawaii did not seriously take warnings from Washington about a potential offensive attack somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

The officers thought that the Japanese would not dare to attack the US. Nobody challenged the idea and instead rationalized why an attack was unly to happen.

Other Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s explanation of groupthink. To learn more and advance your career, see the following resources:

  • Leading By ExampleLeading by ExampleLeadership is a process in which an individual influences the behavior and attitudes of other people. Leading by example helps other people see what lies
  • Interpersonal SkillsInterpersonal SkillsInterpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate, interact, and work with individuals and groups.
  • Negotiation TacticsNegotiation TacticsNegotiation is a dialogue between two or more people with the aim of reaching a consensus over an issue or issues where conflict exists. Good negotiation tactics are important for negotiating parties to know in order for their side to win or to create a win-win situation for both parties.
  • Office PoliticsOffice PoliticsOffice politics exist in almost any organization. They are the activities performed by individuals to improve their status and advance their

Источник: https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/soft-skills/groupthink-decisions/

Groupthink: What Is It And How To Avoid It — PsyBlog

What Is Groupthink?

Groupthink is a danger to effective decision-making but it can be challenged by encouraging dissent.

In government, in corporate boardrooms, every day across the land people gather in groups to make decisions.

More often than we would these decisions turn out to be wrong, sometimes very badly wrong.

Governments waste billions, corporations go bankrupt and people suffer. So why do groups sometimes make such awful decisions?

Group decision-making can go wrong in a number of predictable ways, but one of the most common is groupthink.

Groupthink is a well-known psychological phenomenon, but less well-known are the techniques for fighting it.

Understanding how groupthink occurs and what can be done to fight it is vital for effective decision-making in groups, and consequently vital for well-run society and profitable businesses.

Groupthink emerges because groups are often very similar in background and values.

Groups also usually —or at least have a healthy respect for—each other.

Because of this, when trying to make a decision, a consensus emerges and any evidence to the contrary is automatically rejected, ridiculed even.

Individual members of the group don’t want to rock the boat because it might damage personal relationships.

The groupthink pioneer was psychologist Irving Janis.

He analysed the decisions made by three US presidents (Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon) to extend the war in Vietnam (Janis, 1982).

Groupthink, he argued, explained why they had become locked in their course of action, unable to explore alternatives.

Subsequent psychological research has backed up Janis’ arguments.

Experiments show that people are quick to adopt the majority position and, crucially, they ignore all the potential alternatives and all the conflicting evidence (Nemeth & Kwan, 1987).

Fighting groupthink with dissent

Fighting back against groupthink, Janis argued, is all about vigilant decision-making.

What this means in practice is trying to make the group aware of problems with the consensus and offer alternatives.

To do this someone in the group has to be critical.

Encouraging critical thinking is not easy, but it is possible:

  • Devil’s advocate: someone in the group, but not usually the leader, is assigned the role of trying to spot holes in the decision-making process. This approach was tested by Hirt and Markman (1995) who encouraged experimental participants to generate multiple solutions. The results showed that these participants demonstrated lower susceptibility to group bias.
  • The power of authentic dissent: unfortunately for the devil’s advocate, they can easily be ignored because people don’t take them seriously. Better, then, is someone who really believes in their criticisms. Nemeth et al. (2001) found that when compared with a devil’s advocate, authentic dissenters were more ly to provide a greater quantity and quality of effective solutions.
  • Nurturing authentic dissent: group leaders play a crucial role in encouraging (or crushing) dissent. Vinokur et al. (1985) analysed the decisions made by a panel investigating new medical technologies. The best outcomes were associated with a facilitative chairperson who encouraged participation from the group rather than one who was too directive.

These techniques for eradicating group-think, then, revolve around encouraging dissent.

In the interests of making a good decision, someone has to be critical otherwise mistakes are easily made.

This may seem relatively obvious but there are all sorts of reasons why dissent is never expressed (from Nemeth & Goncalo, 2004):

  • Organisations often recruit on the basis of who will ‘fit in’ and not ‘rock the boat’. The stereotypical yes-man often emerges, perhaps unconsciously, as perfect for the job.
  • Group cohesiveness is highly valued for productivity (‘are you a team-player?’): groups who are always bickering are perceived as getting less work done.
  • Disagreement and the expression of conflicting opinions makes people uncomfortable and they try to suppress it, partly because:
  • Dissent is easily misinterpreted as disrespect or even a personal attack.
  • Dissenters are often labelled as trouble-makers and targeted for either conversion to the consensus or outright expulsion from the group.

Dissenters are rare

As a result dissenters in groups are ly to be an endangered species.

To be effective dissenters must tread a fine line, avoiding pointless confrontation or personal attacks; instead presenting minority viewpoints in an even-handed, well-modulated and authentic fashion.

For their part the majority has to fight its instinct to crush dissenters and recognise the risk they are taking in being critical of the majority opinion.

Although the majority consensus may well be right, it can be more secure in its decision if dissent is encouraged and all the options are explored.


Источник: https://www.spring.org.uk/2021/06/groupthink.php

Avoiding Groupthink: Avoiding Sometimes-Fatal Flaws in Group Decision Making

What Is Groupthink?

Have you ever thought about speaking up in a meeting and then decided against it because you did not want to appear unsupportive of the group's efforts?

Or led a team in which the team members were reluctant to express their own opinions?

If so, you have probably been a victim of «Groupthink».

It doesn't always pay to follow the crowd.

Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people's common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Here, the desire for group cohesion effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving.

Two well-known examples of Groupthink in action are the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster and the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Engineers of the space shuttle knew about some faulty parts months before takeoff, but they did not want negative press so they pushed ahead with the launch anyway.

With the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy made a decision and the people around him supported it despite their own concerns.

Irving L. Janis coined the term «Groupthink,» and published his research in the 1972 book, «Groupthink.

» His findings came from research into why a team reaches an excellent decision one time, and a disastrous one the next.

What he found was that a lack of conflict or opposing viewpoints led to poor decisions, because alternatives were not fully analyzed, and because groups did not gather enough information to make an informed decision.

How to Spot Groupthink

Janis suggested that Groupthink happens when there is:

  • A strong, persuasive group leader.
  • A high level of group cohesion.
  • Intense pressure from the outside to make a good decision.

In fact, it is now widely recognized that Groupthink- behavior is found in many situations and across many types of groups and team settings. So it's important to look out for the key symptoms.

How to Avoid Groupthink

The challenge for any team or group leader is to create a working environment in which Groupthink is unly to happen. It is important also to understand the risks of Groupthink – if the stakes are high, you need to make a real effort to ensure that you're making good decisions.

To avoid Groupthink, it is important to have a process in place for checking the fundamental assumptions behind important decisions, for validating the decision-making process, and for evaluating the risks involved. For significant decisions, make sure your team does the following in their decision-making process:

  • Explores objectives.
  • Explores alternatives.
  • Encourages ideas to be challenged without reprisal.
  • Examines the risks if the preferred choice is chosen.
  • Tests assumptions.
  • If necessary, goes back and re-examines initial alternatives that were rejected.
  • Gathers relevant information from outside sources.
  • Processes this information objectively.
  • Has at least one contingency plan.

There are many group techniques that can help with this, including the «Mind Tools» listed below. By using one or more of these techniques to accomplish aspects of the group's work, you will vary the group's ways of working, and so guard against Groupthink and help make better decisions.

Tools That Help You Avoid Groupthink

Group Techniques: Decision Support Tools:
BrainstormingHelps ideas flow freely without criticism.
Modified Borda CountAllows each group member to contribute individually, so mitigating the risk that stronger and more persuasive group members dominate the decision making process.
Six Thinking HatsHelps the team look at a problem from many different perspectives, allowing people to play «Devil's Advocate».
The Delphi TechniqueAllows team members to contribute individually, with no knowledge of a group view, and with little penalty for disagreement.
Risk AnalysisHelps team members explore and manage risk.
Impact AnalysisEnsures that the consequences of a decision are thoroughly explored.
The Ladder of
Helps people check and validate the individual steps of a decision-making process.

How to Overcome Groupthink

However, if Groupthink does set in, it's important that you recognize and acknowledge it quickly, so that you can overcome it and quickly get back to functioning effectively.

Follow these steps to do this:

  1. Even with good group decision-making processes in place, be on the lookout for signs of Groupthink, so you can deal with them swiftly.
  2. If there are signs of Groupthink, discuss these in the group. Once acknowledged, the group as a whole can consciously free up its decision making.
  3. Assess the immediate risks of any decision, and the consequences for the group and its customers. If risks are high (for example risk of personal safety), make sure you take steps to fully validate any decision before it is ratified.
  4. If appropriate, seek external validation, get more information from outside, and test assumptions. Use the bullets above as a starting point in diagnosing things that needs to change.
  5. Introduce formal group techniques and decision-making tools, such as the ones listed above, to avoid Groupthink in the future.

Groupthink can severely undermine the value of a group's work and, at its worst, it can cost people their lives.

On a lesser scale, it can stifle teamwork, and leave all but the most vocal team members disillusioned and dissatisfied. If you're on a team that makes a decision you don't really support but you feel you can't say or do anything about it, your enthusiasm will quickly fade.

Teams are capable of being much more effective than individuals but, when Groupthink sets in, the opposite can be true. By creating a healthy group-working environment, you can help ensure that the group makes good decisions, and manages any associated risks appropriately.

Group techniques such as Brainstorming, the Modified Borda Count and Six Thinking Hats can help with this, as can other decision making and thinking tools.

Source: The material in this article is Groupthink by Irving L. Janis, and published in 1982 by Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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