Group Think and how to avoid it

Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and
commitment. New York: Free Press.

Eight Main Symptoms of Group Think

Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly
optimistic.
Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning 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 sterotypes of rivals outside the group.
Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the
group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.
Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.
Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision;
silence is seen as consent.
Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse
information that might threaten group complacency.



Avoiding Group Think



9.     The group should be made aware of the causes and consequences of group think.

10. The leader should be neutral when assigning a decision-making task to a group, initially witholding
all preferences and expectations. This practice will be especially effective if the leaders
consistently encourages an atmosphere of open inquiry.

11. The leader should give high priority to airing objections and doubts, and be accepting of criticism.

12. Groups should always consider unpopular alternatives, assigning the role of devil's advocate to
several strong members of the group.

13. Sometimes it is useful to divide the group into two separate deliberative bodies as feasibilities
are evaluated.

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