Summary of Groupthink. Abstract Irving Janis Irving Janis developed a study on group decision making based on human social behavior in which maintaining group cohesiveness and solidarity is felt as more important than considering the facts in a realistic manner. GT is a result of cohesiveness in groups, already discussed by Lewin in the s and is an important factor to consider in decision processes, such as workshops, meetings, conferences, committees, etc. Certain conditions are conducive to Groupthink, such as: The group is highly cohesive The group is isolated from contrary opinions, and The group is ruled by a directive leader who makes his or her wishes known. The following negative outcomes of GT are possible: The group limits its discussion to only a few alternatives. The solution initially favored by most members is never restudied to seek out less obvious pitfalls The group fails to reexamine those alternatives originally disfavored by the majority.
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Groupthink prevents these benefits due to structural faults and provocative situational context Groupthink prevention methods will produce better decisions An illusion of well-being is presumed to be inherently dysfunctional. Group pressures towards consensus lead to concurrence-seeking tendencies. It has been thought that groups with the strong ability to work together will be able to solve dilemmas in a quicker and more efficient fashion than an individual. Groups have a greater amount of resources which lead them to be able to store and retrieve information more readily and come up with more alternative solutions to a problem.
There was a recognized downside to group problem solving in that it takes groups more time to come to a decision and requires that people make compromises with each other. It is, therefore, considered by many to be important to combat the effects of groupthink. He devised ways of preventing groupthink:  — Leaders should assign each member the role of "critical evaluator". This allows each member to freely air objections and doubts. Leaders should not express an opinion when assigning a task to a group.
Leaders should absent themselves from many of the group meetings to avoid excessively influencing the outcome. The organization should set up several independent groups, working on the same problem. All effective alternatives should be examined. The group should invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts. This should be a different person for each meeting.
It allows for conflict to be used in a way that is most-effective for finding the best solution so that members will not have to go back and find a different solution if the first one fails. A similar term to groupthink is the Abilene Paradox , another phenomenon that should be avoided when working in groups. When organizations blunder into the Abilene Paradox, they take actions in contradiction to what their perceived goal may be and therefore defeat the very purposes they are trying to achieve.
As explained in the Abilene Paradox, the Watergate scandal can be an example of this. Before the scandal had occurred, a meeting took place where they discussed the issue. Other examples of how groupthink could be avoided or prevented: After the Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco, President John F. Kennedy sought to avoid groupthink during the Cuban Missile Crisis using "vigilant appraisal". He also encouraged group members to discuss possible solutions with trusted members within their separate departments, and he even divided the group up into various sub-groups, to partially break the group cohesion.
Kennedy was deliberately absent from the meetings, so as to avoid pressing his own opinion. Sunstein points to studies showing groups with a high level of internal socialization and happy talk are more prone to bad investment decisions due to groupthink, compared with groups of investors who are relative strangers and more willing to be argumentative.
To avoid group polarization , where discussion with like-minded people drives an outcome further to an extreme than any of the individuals favored before the discussion, he recommends creating heterogeneous groups which contain people with different points of view.
For example, mixing conservatives and liberals in discussions of issues like climate change, or putting judges appointed by presidents from different parties on panels. This can be accomplished by dissenting individuals, or a group like a Red Team that is expected to pursue an alternative strategy or goal "for real".
These factors range from causal to effectual and focus on group and situational aspects. According to Park, a study by Huseman and Drive indicates groupthink occurs in both small and large decision-making groups within businesses. Manz and Sims conducted a study showing that autonomous work groups are susceptible to groupthink symptoms in the same manner as decisions making groups within businesses. The same study indicates that level of group cohesiveness is insignificant in predicting groupthink occurrence.
If highly dominant members are considered equivalent to leaders with high power motivation, the results of Callaway, Marriott, and Esser contradict the results of Fodor and Smith. A study by Leana indicates the interaction between level of group cohesion and leadership style is completely insignificant in predicting groupthink. Park summarizes a study by McCauley in which structural conditions of the group were found to predict groupthink while situational conditions did not.
The situational conditions included group cohesion. Overall, studies on groupthink have largely focused on the factors antecedents that predict groupthink. Some studies indicate group cohesion and leadership style to be powerfully predictive of groupthink, while other studies indicate the insignificance of these factors.
Group homogeneity and group insulation are generally supported as factors predictive of groupthink. Case studies[ edit ] Politics and military[ edit ] Groupthink can have a strong hold on political decisions and military operations, which may result in enormous wastage of human and material resources. Highly qualified and experienced politicians and military commanders sometimes make very poor decisions when in a suboptimal group setting.
Scholars such as Janis and Raven attribute political and military fiascoes, such as the Bay of Pigs Invasion , the Vietnam War , and the Watergate scandal , to the effect of groupthink. Schlesinger Jr. William Fulbright , attempted to present their objections to the plan, the Kennedy team as a whole ignored these objections and kept believing in the morality of their plan.
In the latter crisis, essentially the same political leaders were involved in decision-making, but this time they learned from their previous mistake of seriously under-rating their opponents. A number of factors such as shared illusions and rationalizations contributed to the lack of precaution taken by U.
Navy officers based in Hawaii. The United States had intercepted Japanese messages and they discovered that Japan was arming itself for an offensive attack somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Washington took action by warning officers stationed at Pearl Harbor , but their warning was not taken seriously. They assumed that the Empire of Japan was taking measures in the event that their embassies and consulates in enemy territories were usurped.
The U. Navy and Army in Pearl Harbor also shared rationalizations about why an attack was unlikely. Some of them included:  ,85 "The Japanese would never dare attempt a full-scale surprise assault against Hawaii because they would realize that it would precipitate an all-out war, which the United States would surely win. For example, on November 7, the day before the election, The New York Times opined that Clinton then had "a consistent and clear advantage in states worth at least electoral votes".
Corporate world[ edit ] In the corporate world, ineffective and suboptimal group decision-making can negatively affect the health of a company and cause a considerable amount of monetary loss.
This was monumental for NASA as they were sending a high school teacher as the first American civilian to go into space.
NASA relies on group work, and in order to launch the shuttle, they have to rely on others to approve that everything will go as planned. NASA wanted to captivate the attention of America. Having Christa McAuliffe on board to broadcast a live lesson, and the possible mention by president Ronald Reagan in his State of the Union Address was not an opportunity NASA could pass up on in order to get more interest on its potential civilian space flight program. The schedule NASA set out to meet was, after all, self-imposed.
It seemed incredible that an organization like NASA, with a history of successful management, could have locked itself into a schedule that it had no chance of meeting. This may have further increased the likelihood of groupthink. The negative impact of groupthink took place during the s as both companies released globalization expansion strategies. The most predominant symptom of groupthink was the illusion of invulnerability as both companies underestimated potential failure due to years of profitability and success during challenging markets.
Up until the consequence of groupthink erupted they were considered blue chips and darlings of the London Stock Exchange. Both companies had already featured prominently in the UK press and media for more positive reasons to do with national pride in their undoubted sector-wide performance.
One particularly relevant and popular arena in which groupthink is rarely studied is sports. The lack of literature in this area prompted Charles Koerber and Christopher Neck to begin a case-study investigation that examined the effect of groupthink on the decision of the Major League Umpires Association MLUA to stage a mass resignation in The decision was a failed attempt to gain a stronger negotiating stance against Major League Baseball.
The union also exhibited some degree of closed-mindedness with the notion that MLB is the enemy. Lastly, there was the presence of self-censorship; some umpires who disagreed with the decision to resign failed to voice their dissent.
Ubiquity model[ edit ] Researcher Robert Baron contends that the connection between certain antecedents which Janis believed necessary has not been demonstrated by the current collective body of research on groupthink. This model provides a revised set of antecedents for groupthink, including social identification , salient norms , and low self-efficacy.
General group problem-solving GGPS model[ edit ] Aldag and Fuller argue that the groupthink concept was based on a "small and relatively restricted sample" that became too broadly generalized. Empirical support for it has also not been consistent. The authors compare groupthink model to findings presented by Maslow and Piaget ; they argue that, in each case, the model incites great interest and further research that, subsequently, invalidate the original concept.
Aldag and Fuller thus suggest a new model called the general group problem-solving GGPS model , which integrates new findings from groupthink literature and alters aspects of groupthink itself. Reexamination[ edit ] Other scholars attempt to assess the merit of groupthink by reexamining case studies that Janis had originally used to buttress his model. Roderick Kramer believed that, because scholars today have a more sophisticated set of ideas about the general decision-making process and because new and relevant information about the fiascos have surfaced over the years, a reexamination of the case studies is appropriate and necessary.
Both presidents sought the advice of experts outside of their political groups more than Janis suggested. Groupthink, while it is thought to be avoided, does have some positive effects.
A case study by Choi and Kim  shows that with group identity , group performance has a negative correlation with defective decision making. This study also showed that the relationship between groupthink and defective decision making was insignificant. These findings mean that in the right circumstances, groupthink does not always have negative outcomes.
It also questions the original theory of groupthink. Reformulation[ edit ] Whyte suggests that collective efficacy plays a large role in groupthink because it causes groups to become less vigilant and to favor risks, two particular factors that characterize groups affected by groupthink. Sociocognitive theory[ edit ] According to a new theory many of the basic characteristics of groupthink — e.
Members of tightly knit groups have a tendency to represent significant aspects of their community as episodic memories and this has a predictable influence on their group behavior and collective ideology.
Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes