|Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing?||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Norm Gauss (normangauss11comcast.net)|
|Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 23:11:12 -0700 (PDT)|
An Excerpt from: July 10, 2004 SENATE INTELLIGENCE REPORT Groupthink Viewed as Culprit in Move to War By Vicki Kemper, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Irving Janis, a Yale psychologist, coined the term "groupthink" in 1972 to describe a decision-making process in which officials are so wedded to the same assumptions and beliefs that they ignore, discount or even ridicule information to the contrary. When members of a cohesive, homogeneous group value unanimity and agreement on one course of action more than a realistic appraisal of alternatives, they are engaging in groupthink. Experts said Friday that while groupthink was not entirely responsible for the acceptance of faulty intelligence information on Iraq, the Bush administration was, by design, particularly susceptible to that risky style of decision-making. "Groupthink is more likely to arise when there is a strong premium on loyalty and when there is not a lot of intellectual range or diversity within a decision-making body," said Stephen M. Walt, academic dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "The Bush administration has been an unusually secretive group of like-minded people where a very high premium is placed on loyalty." All organizations and administrations face the same risk, Walt said. He added that while the report specifically indicted the intelligence community, others - including Democratic lawmakers and the media - also failed to challenge basic assumptions about Iraq's weapons capability. "When a president makes a decision about something, there is a tendency to get on the train rather than throwing yourself in front of it," he said. "Whatever Bush's flaws may be, indecision is not one of them." The commonly cited "symptoms" of groupthink are a fundamental overconfidence that gives members an illusion of invulnerability and a belief in the inherent morality of the group. The groupthink dynamic also is characterized by a pressure to conform that often leads group members with different ideas to censor themselves. But groupthink is most likely to occur when all or most members of a group share the same views. In that sense, it is the opposite of collective wisdom, said James Surowiecki, a financial writer for the New Yorker and author of the recent book, "The Wisdom of Crowds." "What's really striking about groupthink is not so much that dissenting opinions are crushed or shouted down, but they come to seem improbable," he said. "Everyone operates on the idea that this is true, so everyone goes out to prove that it's true." Surowiecki, who concludes in his book that "under the right circumstances, most groups are remarkably intelligent," said it's when leaders surround themselves with like-minded people that groupthink is a danger. "Collective wisdom," by contrast, comes when "each person in the group is offering his or her best independent forecast," he said. "It's not at all about compromise or consensus." An excerpt from Los Angeles Times Op-Ed July 11, 2004: COMMENTARY 'Groupthink' Isn't the CIA's Problem A culture of individualism is the norm. By Robert Jervis, Robert Jervis is a political science and international politics professor at Columbia University and a consultant to the CIA. "Groupthink" - identified in the early 1970s by the late Yale psychologist Irving Janis - refers to a process by which conformity grows out of deliberations in small groups. It can indeed be quite powerful. The way Janis explained it, groupthink operates when individuals work closely together over a sustained period. It isn't merely that members of the group come to think alike but that they come to overvalue the harmonious functioning of the group. In their eagerness to reach consensus, they become inhibited from questioning established assumptions or from raising questions that might disturb their colleagues and friends. A vicious circle begins as the group feels good about itself because it has discovered the truth, and this truth is accepted by each person because it is believed by the others. In this way, a group of intelligent individuals can confidently arrive at conclusions that are wildly removed from reality. Most social scientists agree that groupthink has contributed to many disastrous decisions in business, families and foreign policy. President Kennedy and his top advisors, for instance, fell into a groupthink trap, believing that the landings of the Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs in April, 1961, might overthrow Fidel Castro. Intense face-to-face meetings among the president's top foreign policy planners formed strong bonds that no one wanted to loosen. In hindsight, their plans were so badly flawed that it is hard to understand how such world-wise leaders could have endorsed them. But apparently each individual grew confident because the others were - each was reassured because the group was functioning so well and without discord; no one felt the need, or had the nerve, to insist they consider the possibility that the group was on the totally wrong track. Richard Nixon's Watergate cover-up was in part maintained by the same dynamic. To many outsiders even at the time, it was obvious that the only way for Nixon to survive was to air the full truth early on. But the Nixon White House was a small group, closed-mouthed and predisposed to keep everything secret.
Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing? Norm Gauss, July 14 2004
Re: Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing? mark harfenist, July 14 2004
- Re: Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing? Gail Page, July 15 2004
Re: Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing? Dave & Diane, July 15 2004
- Re: Re: Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing? mark harfenist, July 15 2004
- Re: Are we succumbing to "groupthink" in cohousing? mark harfenist, July 14 2004
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