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Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis, occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”. Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.
Eight symptoms of groupthink:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability -Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization - Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality - Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups - Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters - Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship - Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
  7. Illusion of unanimity - The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ - Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

Sound familiar?

THHA 7 Apr 27

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In all sectors of life, we need loyal devil's advocates to ensure that our thinking is not being channeled along a wrong path. I read Janis's book some 45 years ago, and still consider it one of the most important books I have ever read.


We should all gang up on the next theist to join the site is what I got out of this.

1of5 Level 8 Apr 29, 2019

Global warming activism?


The thing is, this can be applied to almost any group, including both Republicans and Democrats. So when someone says, "Sound familiar?", it's kind of ironic. Please don't take that as an insult, because it's not.


if you care to check you'll find that Orwell in his "1984", published in 1948, came up with "groupthink" way before janis.

Was groupthink actually a concept used in that book? I remember "crimestop", "unperson", and "newspeak" but I don't specifically remember groupthink, although that phrase sounds a lot like the types of words found in the newspeak language that is the core concept of the book.

@Happy_Killbot ,
pretty sure groupthink was in there.


The only way to protect yourself from group think is to deliberately try to understand things from another perspective, and that is a lot of work because you never know what set of assumptions and world views the other may be operating under, possibly they don't know either.


It's a process bound to continuous improvement. We are coming from caves and nomads to getting together in groups, not much thinking initially and now we are going through that phase over the span of thousands of years. We can see our past, we can enjoy our present and we can steer to our future.


You could add to that mass hysteria when a crowd behaves in an irrational way that the individuals in the crowd would never act on their own.


Here is a bit from Carl Jung's The Four Archetypes on the dangers of group think.

Human nature has a weak habit of taking gifts for granted; in times of necessity, we demand them as a right instead of making the effort to obtain them ourselves. One sees this, unfortunately, only too plainly in the tendency to demand everything from the State, without reflecting that the State consists of those very individuals who make the demands. The logical development of this tendency leads to Communism, where each individual enslaves the community and the latter is represented by a dictator, the slave-owner. All primitive tribes characterized by a communistic order of society also have a chieftain over them with unlimited powers. The Communist State is nothing other than an absolute monarchy in which there are no subjects, but only serfs.


Sounds like the college where I teach.


The irony is that those caught up in groupthink don’t know they are engaged in groupthink. If it’s someone else’s group it’s very easy to make that characterization—to view them that way. But remember, from their perspective it might be you who are caught up in groupthink.

Maybe it’s not absolute. Maybe there are elements of groupthink in all of us from time to time, but we also are critical thinkers in some areas.


No. What conclusions do you want us to draw? Why are you bringing this to people's attention?

I think it is very relevant today in helping us to understand the motivations and actions of extreme political and terrorist groups.

My god, this is the conclusion.

We're on a road to destruction if we don't make changes.


It's just too darn easy but it must be a very nice feeling.


It is a worldwide issue right now and not in a good way!


Those "self approved mindguards" probably were hall monitors in middle school.


And most importantly-group think is extremely dangerous.

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