Irving Janis developed a study on group decision making based on human social behavior in which maintaining
group cohesiveness and solidarity is felt as more important than considering the
facts in a realistic manner. Janis gave the following definition of
A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply
involved in a cohesive group, when the members' strivings for unanimity
override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses
GT is a result of cohesiveness
in groups, already discussed by Lewin in the 1930s and is an important
factor to consider in decision processes, such as workshops, meetings, conferences,
Certain conditions are conducive to Groupthink,
- The group is highly cohesive
- The group is isolated from contrary
- The group is ruled by a directive leader who makes his or her wishes
following negative outcomes of GT are possible:
- The group limits its discussion to
only a few alternatives.
- The solution initially favored by most
members is never restudied to seek out less obvious pitfalls
group fails to reexamine those alternatives originally disfavored by the
- Expert opinion is not sought
- The group is highly
selective in gathering and attending to available information
group is so confident in its ideas that it does not consider contingency
A few methods to prevent Groupthink are:
- Appoint a devil's advocate
- Encourage everyone to
be a critical evaluator
- Do not have the leader state a preference up
- Set up independent groups
- Divide into subgroups
what is happening with others outside the group
- Invite others into the group to bring
- Gather anonymous feedback via a
suggestion box or an online forum
What are typical symptoms of
Janis listed eight symptoms that show that concurrence seeking has led
the group astray.
The first two stem from overconfidence in the group’s
powers. The next pair reflect the tunnel vision members use to view the
The final four are signs of strong conformity pressure within
- Illusion of
Invulnerability: Janis summarizes this attitude as
‘‘everything is going to work out all right because we are a
special group." Examining few alternatives.
- Belief in Inherent
Morality of the Group: under the sway of GT,
members automatically assume the rightness of their cause.
Rationalization: a collective mindset of being rational.
Being highly selective in gathering information.
people only offer equivocal or tempered opinions. Not seeking
expert or outside opinions. Pressure to conform within group;
members withhold criticisms.
- Illusion of
Unanimity. Individual group members look to each other
to confirm theories.
- Direct Pressure on
Dissenters. Pressure to protect group from negative
views or information.
Mindguards: these ‘‘mindguards" protect a leader from
assault by troublesome ideas.
Compare with Groupthink:
Core Groups |
Six Thinking Hats |
Contingency Theory |
| Levels of Culture
Changing Organization Cultures |
| Brainstorming |
More management models