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Group Think


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Groupthink always occurs in a cohesive group in which members have strong feelings toward the group and are highly motivated to remain part of that group.

In such a group, there is a strong sense of solidarity, which makes the group strive for agreement and prevents it from seriously considering problems or possible consequences. 

Members of a cohesive group often fail to use critical thinking.

Eight Symptoms of Groupthink

  1. The illusion of invulnerability: The group feels invincible, which, at the same time, allows it to feel complacent and secure in any decisions it might make.
  2. Shared stereotypes: The strong “we” versus “they” feeling of a cohesive group toward an adversary group fosters the shared stereotype toward the enemy.
  3. Rationalisation: A tightly knit group begins to pool its resources to devise certain logical explanations (rationalisations) that help group members maintain their self-respect.
  4. The illusion of morality: The rationalisations, in turn, lead to a belief in the group's own morality that allows it to disregard any ethical or moral objections to its behaviour.
  5. Self-censorship: This is one of the ironies of group dynamics. The more cohesive and secure the group is, the greater the tendency of individual members to restrict the discussion and analysis of any doubts they might have.
  6. The illusion of anonymity: This symptom is closely related to self-censorship. Members do not express their doubts, even if they have them, because they assume everyone else’s silence implies agreement and are reluctant to disrupt the group's unity.
  7. Direct pressure: When a deviant member does speak out in a group, which rarely happens, the symptom of direct pressure comes into play. It is applied to the dissenting member who is reminded that the group's aim is agreement, not argument.
  8. Mind guarding: This is the action of protecting the group from disturbing outside ideas or opinions. An example is a marketing manager who prevents a scientist from presenting concerns about a new drug to the board.

Role of Leadership in Counteracting Group Think

An important aspect of group dynamics is leadership. Good leadership can determine a group’s effectiveness and help avoid the pitfalls of groupthink. The Cuban missile crisis and Kennedy’s handling of group advisors was a good example of preventing groupthink.

The things Kennedy did to counteract groupthink consisted of the following:

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