Most of the people who were interviewed following the riots of august 2011 in Tottenham England admitted that what turned out as riots, essentially started as a peaceful protest over the shooting of a young man which soon exploded in an orgy of violence, looting and arson. Most sociologists would ascribe it to crowd behavior, but similar behavior has been observed among political leaders. This rather peculiar but intriguing social behavior is known as group thinking. If it exists among our leaders, surely it is worth a second look.
This behavior was first exposed by Irwin Janis in his book Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes where he analyzed the questionable decision making by the government in the Bay of Pigs, Pearl Harbor and the North Korean invasion among others. He defined groupthink as an extreme concurrence sought by decision making groups. The seeking of such concurrence occurs in most cases at the expense of realistically considering the acts at hand in a realistic manner. This behavior is common to groups where high cohesion, insulation from expert opinion and a lack of a systematic and empirical method of evaluating decisions exist.
The effects of this particular cocktail of conditions or a symptom of groupthink include an unwarranted feeling of invulnerability is usually the case in groups where little outside input is allowed, consequently the lack of dissenting voice gives the false impression that things are going well within the group. A strong belief in the morality of the group is often the case where the whole supersedes the parts. Hence individual codes of morality get swallowed up as few members of the group would want to speak up if there exists a conflict of their personal morals and the groups decision. Pressure on the dissenters is another symptom. In another social group this would be called peer pressure; but within this type of group the same dynamics pressurizes its members to conform to the groups conclusion. This most times is a product of the time constraint under which each decision is made. Others effects include self censorship and setting up of mind guards. This situation often results in very poor decision making.
When the decisions that result from a groupthink are critically analyzed one common denominator is found in the process of the decision making: the pressure to act, to do something or to make a statement through an action that is supposed to press home some point that the decision makers are trying to make. In his work Flowers, who empirically tested Janiss theory, found out that the cohesiveness of the group did not substantively influence the quality of the decisions taken by the said group, this might be explained by the fact that his conceptual definition of a cohesive group (college students) differed from that employed by Janis in his study. Most often the groups that exhibit this kind of behavior have a charismatic and authoritative leader who effectively creates an atmosphere where the groups deliberations are basically the extensions of his own thought process and as a result, there is little or no room to consider other possible options.
Groupthink often shows up in decision making groups and an understanding of it, could help in comprehending and exploiting the dynamics that come into play when the decisions are made by the groups of people in various organizations and conferences.
About the author
Robert Cooper specializes in writing academic papers on educational topics. He is a writer at article review writing service https://123helpme.org/articles/write-my-article-review/