Methods for Counteracting Groupthink Risk: A Critical Appraisal

Methods for Counteracting Groupthink Risk: A Critical Appraisal

Anthony R. Pratkanis (Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA) and Marlene E. Turner (School of Global Innovation and Leadership, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/ijrcm.2013100102
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Abstract

This paper examines methods for counteracting groupthink defined as the extreme concurrence seeking exhibited by decision making groups, typically under conditions of high threat and cohesion (Janis, 1982). The authors identify three major categories of interventions potentially capable of mitigating groupthink tendencies: a) traditional recommendations originally hypothesized by Janis, b) methods for enhancing intellectual conflict during the decision making phase, and c) procedures designed to minimize pressures for the activation of group social identity defenses. The authors critically review the limited research empirically examining these recommendations, identify both advantages and disadvantages associated with implementing these interventions, and discuss conditions under which they are likely to be effective and ineffective.
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Overview Of The Groupthink Model

Groupthink is defined as the extreme concurrence seeking exhibited by decision making groups (Janis, 1972, 1982). Janis hypothesized that groupthink is likely to occur when a group is facing situations involving crisis or extreme stress and when the group has a configuration of antecedent characteristics.

These include low esteem stemming from the belief that a better solution other than that supported by the leader or other influential people can not be found, high group cohesion, limited search and appraisal of decision alternatives, and a highly directive group leader. Consequently, groups develop extreme concurrence seeking and exhibit what Janis termed the symptoms of groupthink. These include the illusion of invulnerability, collective rationalization, stereotyping of outgroups, mindguards (members who function to suppress dissent in the group), and the unshakeable belief in the morality of the group, its processes, and its decisions.

As a result, the decision making process adopted by the group is characterized by suboptimal procedures, or defective decision making symptoms, such as poor information search, selective processing of information including favoring information that bolsters the group’s preferred solution, as well as an extremely truncated appraisal of decision alternatives. The combined forces are hypothesized to result in extremely poor decision making performance by the group.

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