Groupthink

vietnam scar by David levine

Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Research psychologist, Irving Janis studied a number of ‘disasters’ in American foreign policy, such as failure to anticipate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941), the Bay of Pigs fiasco (1961), and the prosecution of the Vietnam War (1964–67) by President Lyndon Johnson. He concluded that in each of these cases, the decisions were made largely due to the cohesive nature of the committees which made them. Moreover, that cohesiveness prevented contradictory views from being expressed and subsequently evaluated.

Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group. Members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking to avoid being seen as foolish, or to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, in hindsight, and was coined by journalist William H. Whyte in a 1952 ‘Fortune’ magazine article.

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.