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Group Think

posted 10 Jan 2011, 11:44 by Jess Maher   [ updated 11 Jan 2011, 17:43 ]

What happens when its members check their individuality and ideas at the door and succumb to the will of the group. When individual creativity, uniqueness, differences, and independent thinking is secondary to the group’s cohesiveness and mission. The stronger and tighter the group, the easier it is for groupthink to rear its ugly head. Risks of stifle creativity and foster narrow-mindedness if you’re not careful when using SNSs.

Pagliarini (2010, Feb 20) Is Social Networking Bad for you? Retrieved from

Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. It is a second potential negative consequence of group cohesion.

Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.[citation needed] During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance.

To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977).

  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  2. Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
  5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty".
  6. Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  8. Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

Groupthink, resulting from the symptoms listed above, results in defective decision making. That is, consensus-driven decisions are the result of the following practices of groupthinking[5]

  1. Incomplete survey of alternatives
  2. Incomplete survey of objectives
  3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
  4. Failure to reevaluate previously rejected alternatives
  5. Poor information search
  6. Selection bias in collecting information
  7. Failure to work out contingency plans.