The SAGE Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2nd edition
Contributors: Author:Simon Taggar
Edited by: Steven G. Rogelberg
Book Title: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2nd edition
Chapter Title: “Groupthink”
Pub. Date: 2017
Access Date: June 9, 2021
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc
City: Thousand Oaks
Print ISBN: 9781483386898
Online ISBN: 9781483386874
Print pages: 587-589
2017 SAGE Publications, Inc All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online
version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
Groupthink theory has become an influential framework for understanding the origins of group decision- making fiascos and has been widely cited in a variety of disciplines, including psychology, business, political science, and communication. The appeal of the concept is evidenced by the ease with which it can be applied to numerous group decisions and the potential for groupthink to occur in various work situations.
Groupthink is likely when members
are in a highly cohesive group; perceive a stressful situational context such as time pressure; perceive the task to be important, difficult, and involving; and are striving for unanimity rather than evaluating alternative courses of action.
Group cohesion may be a function of mutual attraction, comradeship, enthusiasm, and devotion to a common course; desire to belong to the group; or loyalty to a leader. Other antecedents of groupthink may be structural and procedural faults of the group, including insulation, promotional (or directive) leadership, lack of norms requiring methodological procedures, and homogeneity of members social backgrounds and ideology.
Groupthink theory identifies specific symptoms of defective decision making and prescribes a number of concrete and useful remedies for avoiding them. The original symptoms of groupthink identified by Janis are as follows:
Illusion of invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.
Collective rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warnings contrary to group thinking. Illusion of morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical
consequences of their decisions. Excessive stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group. Direct pressure for conformity on dissidents: Peers pressure members of the group who express
arguments against the prevailing groups stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.
Self-censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counterarguments. Illusion of unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the groups
decisionsilence is considered consent. Reliance on self-appointed mind guards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting
the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.
Research suggests that additional symptoms may include the following:
Group insulation: Failure to initiate or maintain contact with an opposition group and lack of coordination with third-party mediators.
Creation of time pressure: Failure to extend the time period for reaching a decision. Lack of impartial leadership: Less available information is used and few solutions are suggested
when leaders are directive. Decision making: Lack of methodical decision-making procedures.
By facilitating the development of shared illusions and related norms, these symptoms are used by groups to maintain esprit de corps during difficult times. The major thrust of groupthink theory is that the presence of a number of the previous symptoms increases the probability that a group will elicit groupthink. That is, the more symptoms of groupthink, the more unfavorable the outcomes.
SAGE 2017 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
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