From: Norm Gauss (
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 14:02:51 -0700 (PDT)
I have introduced the phenomenon of groupthink by first referencing
newspaper articles on the subject.  To excerpt them (with accurate source
information) rather than paraphrase them is more convincing.  Now people
know exactly what I am talking about rather than being confused.

I have seen the groupthink dynamic in community meetings at our cohousing
group.  The meetings are usually begun by process activities often lasting
up to 45 minutes before business is introduced.  During this time, a mood
designed to promote solidarity in the group is created.  In other words, the
group has been conditioned for groupthink.

When the agenda turns to business, people are more likely to be in an
agreeable mood so that the intended goals of achieving consensus are
realized.  Also, they are more exhausted and more eager to achieve
consensus, and frequently there is a feeling of letdown when the goal is not
achieved.  When consensus is arrived at, a greater feeling of satisfaction
is evident than if more time were devoted to debating the issues and a
greater understanding of the pros and cons of a certain proposal were

Thus it appears that the goal of arriving at consensus takes precedence over
trying to cover the issues, both pro and con.  If agenda time is allocated
for a given proposal and most of the time period has been utilised without
yet achieving consensus, the proposal is often put to a vote even before all
the issues have been debated.  If only one person blocks consensus, he/she
is considered anti-community because the goal of achieving consensus was
thwarted by a single vote.  This is groupthink, because the person blocking
consensus is castigated rather than being a concerned community member.

I don't know how many other cohousing groups have this type of dynamic in
their community meetings.  I introduced the groupthink topic in hopes of
getting feedback from any other cohousing groups.  Does anyone detect this
kind of pattern in their meetings?  I am curious to find out.

Norm Gauss
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, California

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