Essay on The Definition of the Theory of Groupthink

Submitted By bpretty1
Words: 1518
Pages: 7

The term "groupthink" was a theory developed by psychologist Irving Janis. The theory was intended to explain bad decisions and outcomes made by governments and businesses, which Janis sometimes called "fiascoes." (Vore, 2013) He was really interested in situations where pressure with the group seemed to result in a failure to think clearly. Janis defined groupthink as "a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action. Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures." (Groupthink, 2013)
Groupthink can occur when a group of people disagrees with their boss and want to create conflict in the face of the powerful boss. The idea of groupthink offers an explanation of reasons that groups sometimes make poor decisions. Groups are thought to be better at making complex decisions than individuals because they contain a variety of different views. (Vore, 2013) Groups not only bring new ideas into the discussion but also can act as device to correct errors. Groups can also provide social support which is very important when creating new ideas. This issue with groupthink comes when new viewpoints are not accepted. Even though groups can work to support effective conclusions, the same processes that boost the group's plan can also backfire, which can lead to an outcome that’s unfavorable. (Rose, 2011)
There are four problems that can cause the groupthink phenomena to come into effect. The first is overestimation of group power and morality. This occurs when a group feels too good about itself or they feel invulnerable and optimistic. The second is when the group feels morally right. This can then cause the group’s “closed-mindedness”. (Groupthink, 2013) When this happens, people with different views are cast out, warnings are ignored, and stereo-typical views of opponents are created and used which only fuels the groups’ self-riotousness. The third is when uniformity and acceptance cause those individuals with questions to remain silent. If a question does happen to go against the group then the pressure is put on that individual to get them back into the group’s mindset once again. (Groupthink, 2013) This in turn creates the final problem when the group develops “guards” which make sure that the thoughts are consistent among the group members. These are “members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency.”
As a group stays tight knit, the members grow to like each other. When this happens there will be more pressure not to discuss information that might destroy the cohesiveness. The group wants to maintain the good feelings that come from cohesion and becomes part of the group's "hidden agenda." (Groupthink, 2013) The lack of unbiased leadership is another major cause. This is when powerful leaders want to have it their way and they pressure the group into agreement. Agreement then seems like the easier alternative. If your boss screams at you for a few minutes, you will become embarrassed which then causes you to desire their approval, regardless of if they are right or wrong. When this happens in a group, “groupthink” is just about unavoidable. Lastly the group may not have had a template or procedure for decision making, and norms for such a method were also missing.
There are many ways to avoid “groupthink” from occurring. You must make sure your employees follow good meeting processes, an example would be the development of a schedule. The business should also target a proper and balanced staff. (Rose, 2011) The staff must present opposing views and attend to correlative meeting issues like fatigue. (Groupthink, 2013) Groupthink has caused many issues in the past to become unresolved. Most of