Group Think

Psychology group think

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  • Created by: ellie
  • Created on: 08-05-09 10:43

Group Decision Making - ADVANTAGES

  • Divide the workload
  • correct each others mistakes
  • evaluate possible decisions
  • have more information on a problem
  • more ideas generated
  • broader range of experience and skills
  • complementary knowledge
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Group Decision Making - DISADVANTAGES

  • Group members too different for effective communication
  • too many members = less participation
  • group discussions = time consuming
  • conjecture = irrelevancies
  • Individual members dominate the group = conformity.
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" A detereoration of mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgements that result from in - group pressure."

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Janis et al, (1977) Model of GroupThink


  • Members - similar backgrounds and experience
  • decision process is one sided
  • Cohesive group
  • group has illusion of invulnerability "if we work together we cannot go wrong"
  • extreme optimism
  • Group over estimates its own morality "we are doing this for the greater good"
  • Insulation of group from outsiders
  • no impartial leadership
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Janis et al (1972) Model of Group Think


  • ethical issues are ignored
  • blind spots are rationalised
  • out groups are stereotyped
  • conformity leads to suppression of doubts
  • emphasis on any answer rather than the correct one
  • belief the group must be right - ignore info contradicting the group


poor decision making procedures with LOW chance of success / favourable outcomes.

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Group Think Example - Bay of Pigs

Bay of Pigs (1961)

  • President Kennedy and his exec, sent a small number of cuban exiles with the intention to over throw Fidel Castro but invaders were either captured/killed and it nearly sparked a nuclear war.
  • Janis (1972) argues this was caused by GROUPTHINK and the president and his exec made impractical and unrealistic decisions, i.e. could the exiles out wit an entire army.
  • Kennedy and his advisors later admitted it was a mistake and changed the decision making technique adopted. With more input from out side and someone who's role was to play devils advocate.
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Evaluation of Groupthink


  • desriptive studies of groupthink support the idea that increased cohesiveness causes it CALLAWAY et al but experimental research shows little or no support LEANA.
  • Group Cohesiveness may need to be more clearly defined - at present focueses on group based liking and friendship
  • Hogg and Harris (1998) symptoms of group think associated with cohesivness only in group based liking not friendship
  • Is group think RISKY SHIFT - where a group then tends towards more risky decisions polarises through discussion and makes a more risky decision - MYERS et al
  • Is group think just an aggregation of individuals coping responses to stress - CALLAWAY, the coping reponses are mutually reinforced by other members.
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