The Groupthink Theory
“Researchers have studied the influence of group pressure on individual members” (Byars and Rue, 2007, 238).
As defined by Byars and Rue “when group members lose their ability to think as individuals and conform at the expense of their good judgment, groupthink occurs. Members become unwilling to say anything against the group or any member, even if an action is wrong” (Byars and Rue, 2007, 238).
“Keeping a group together under any circumstance is a goal in itself. Groups with this goal believe that the group is indestructible and always right. Group members justify any action, stereotype outsiders as enemies of the group, and pressure unwilling members to conform ...view middle of the document...
This paper will look at the conditions, the indicators or symptoms, and the ways to counteract groupthink.
The conditions for groupthink to happen are important to recognize. When a homogenous, highly cohesive group is only concerned with maintaining unanimity, they fail to evaluate all their alternatives and options. It is obvious that a group suffers from groupthink when the group feels apathetic about its task; group members do not expect to be successful; one group member has very high credibility---group members tend to believe what he or she says; one group member is very persuasive; and group members do not usually challenge ideas; it is expected that group members will agree with one another (Beebe, Beebe, and Ivy, 2001, 282). The members also see themselves as part of an in-group working as an out-group opposed to their goals. The Challenger space shuttle disaster is what can happen when groupthink occurs. Stress can also be a condition that allows for groupthink to take place. As group members realize that immense external and internal pressures come with their task, the level of stress rises. The desire to reduce the stress motivates the members to come to an outcome quickly. Effective groups need to have clear goals, mutual trust among all participants, accountability shared by everyone, external support, and training.
There are many indicators or symptoms that groupthink could be happening in a decision-making process. Groups dominated by groupthink tend to make unethical decisions when compared to the decisions that could have been reached using a fair, open, and rational decision-making process. Many groups have an illusion of invulnerability and they think that they are not capable of being wrong. When the group believes that they are doing the right thing in all circumstances and that it is best for everyone, then they are showing inherent morality. Groups are often close-minded about the situation that is occurring. They ignore the information that does not back up the opinions of the group members. This occurred with the Challenger because the scientists from one group were telling the others to delay the launch. There had been pressure from all around to launch the space shuttle that they did not listen to the scientists and cause seven lives to be lost in the disaster. When any of these occur in a group, changes must be made to ensure that it will not happen in the future.
There are many practices that can help prevent groupthink from happening.
One way of preventing groupthink is to make each member of the group a “critical evaluator” (Janis 1982, 262).
Group members will make an effort...