Psych M.D. - Groupthink


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Term: groupthink
Definition (Myers):
the mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives.1
Definition (alternative):the practice of approaching problems or issues as matters that are best dealt with by consensus of a group rather than by individuals acting independently; conformity. 2
Contextual explanation:

Groupthink is a type of thinking that generally causes a group of people to make decisions based on group pressures. It usually leads people to dehumanize other groups 3. This term was coined by Irving Janis, a Yale psychologist who studied social dynamics. Many times, the people in a group are too concerned about maintaining unanimity and consequently end up making bad decisions. A few characteristics of groupthink include the illusion of invulnerability, self-censorship, and belief in morality of the group.4 The illusion of invulnerability means that the group of people overestimate the effectiveness of their decisions, and ignore the consequences of making said decisions. Self-censorship means that no single person in the group present different ideas that deviate from the consensus. Everyone "censors" their own ideas, in an attempt to avoid any counterarguments. Belief in the morality of the group means that the people believe that their decisions are moral, and ignore any other viewpoints.

Examples:
  • Bays of Pigs Invasion
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Truman's Decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima

Related terms and concepts:
groupthink irony
Related websites:
Sources: insert WAPA style citations here
  1. Myers, D.G. (2003). Psychology. New York City: Worth Publishers.
  2. Dictionary.com, LLD. (2009). Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group. Retrieved September 10th, 2009, from http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=groupthink
  3. Psychologists for Social Responsibility, (2002). What is groupthink. Retrieved from http://psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/
  4. The College of St. Scholastica, (2009). GroupThink. Retrieved from http://faculty.css.edu/dswenson/web/TWAssoc/groupthink.html
  5. The College of St. Scholastica, (2009). groupthink. Retrieved from http://faculty.css.edu/dswenson/web/TWAssoc/groupthink.GIF
  6. CRM Learning, (2008). Groupthink; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYpbStMyz_I, CRM Learning. Youtube.
Edited by: Jessica
Date of last edit: 9/10/09



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