The Groupthink Theory

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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 (Byars and Rue, 2007, 238).

In 1972, Irving L. Janis presented a set of hypothesis that he extracted from observing small groups performing problem-solving tasks; he collectively referred to these hypotheses as groupthink (Janis, 1972).
He defined groupthink as “a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action” (Janis, 1982, 9). Groups are usually successful because group members bring varied ideas, collective knowledge, and they tend to be focused while working together. Groups can be advantageous to both individuals and businesses. They are valuable to individuals because they are able to learn new skills, get feedback from others, and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. The most important function of groups for businesses is to accomplish tasks that individuals cannot do on their own. The Bay of Pigs invasion, Nixon’s Watergate cover-up, and the Challenger space shuttle explosion are examples of situations where group communication failed. Groupthink can lead to…...

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