Re: improving group dynamics?
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 09:40:08 -0700 (MST)
I would definitely avoid the phrase "group thinking" when you are looking
for ways to improve decision making, since "groupthink" is a term in
psychology for a particular type of group decision-making -- one that is an
especial danger to consensus-based groups.  On the other hand, I would say
that learning to recognize groupthink is a very good idea.

Definition of Groupthink
A. Groupthink is the tendency to place relational concerns of group unity
ahead of task concern for effective performance.
B. Groupthink manifests itself in the tendency of a group to seek unanimous
agreement at the expense of careful, thorough, and critical analysis of the
information, ideas, proposals, and reasoning upon which a consequential
decision rests.
Symptoms (Indicators) of "Groupthink"
A. Illusion of invulnerability -- we are incapable of being wrong
B. Rationalization -- the ends justifies the means
C. Inherent morality -- what we're doing is best for everyone
D. Stereotypical thinking -- employ preconceived notions in evaluating
E. Close-mindedness -- ignore information that does not confirm or support
the prevailing opinions of group members
F. Mind guards -- group members who take it upon themselves to protect the
group from information that contradicts prevailing opinion
G. Pressure on dissenters -- group members aggressive "go after" colleagues
who disagree with the general sentiments of the group
H. Self-censorship -- group members willingly refrain from voicing
opposition to the prevailing sentiments of the group
I. Illusion of unanimity -- the belief that silence is an indication of
[end quote]

In analyzing various major policy disasters, one frequently finds groupthink
was occurring.  A traditional example is the Bay of Pigs invasion -- a more
recent one is Operation Iraqi Freedom.


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