Disadvantages Of Groupthink

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Although the term groupthink was first coined by William H. Whyte in an article published in Fortune Magazine (Whyte, 1952), it was the social psychologist Irving Janis who developed the concept and did much of the initial research on this field. In a foundational article from 1971 he defined groupthink as “a quick and easy way to refer to the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action” (Janis, 1971, 43). Indications of groupthink arise when the components of a decision-making group have the tendency to avoid being critical in their judgments of their colleagues´ or leaders´ opinions or ideas; they tend…show more content…
To preserve harmony within their group, teams affected by groupthink can ignore possibilities and make irrational decisions, even when these have undesirable outcomes or even dehumanize others. Within the protection of the group, its members may find it relatively easy to take extremely harsh resolutions regarding others (like military attacks or bombings) in the name of the noble principles that they represent; and they are unlikely to critically address the controversial aspects of these decisions (possibility of failure, or their ethical implications). He documented eight main symptoms of groupthink:

1. Illusion of invulnerability: the team´s members feel protected and are overoptimistic and willing to take extraordinary risks.
2. Collective rationalization: groups affected by groupthink tend to construct rationalizations that allow them to discount warnings and not reconsider their assumptions about past
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foreign policy mistakes in the XX century: the Korean War stalemate, the escalation of the Vietnam War, the failure to foresee the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs disaster in Cuba and the Watergate cover-up; and the success of other foreign policy interventions has been attributed in part to the fact that groupthink could be avoided, like in the organization of the Marshall Plan and the handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis (Janis, 1972, 1982). This effect has also been spotted in domains different from public policy, like the space shuttle Challenger accident (Esser & Lindoerfer, 1989) (Moorhead et al, 1991); organizations and markets (Bénabou 2013); juvenile gangs (Caya 2014);
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