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4/20/2015 GROUPTHINK OF Irving Janis in Em Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory (1st ed.) Archived Chapter, 3rd ed.

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Presentation on theme: "4/20/2015 GROUPTHINK OF Irving Janis in Em Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory (1st ed.) Archived Chapter, 3rd ed."— Presentation transcript:


2 4/20/2015 GROUPTHINK OF Irving Janis in Em Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory (1st ed.) Archived Chapter, 3rd ed.

3 4/20/2015 CLICKER Groupthink occurs when there is: A. High cohesiveness ; B. A shared “we feeling” of solidarity; A. Desire to maintain relationships within the group at all costs; A. All of the above

4 WHAT THE THEORY IS ABOUT Janis wanted to understand how a blue-ribbon group (or any group) could make a terrible decision, such as happened in the Bay of Pigs decision during JF Kennedy’s presidency;

5 Bay of Pigs Invasion  During President Kennedy’s presidency, a group of respected minds deliberated and decided to support a military invasion of Cuba;  The invasion was a massive disaster, with all the soldiers either dead or captured;

6 The Decision  Everything went wrong: u the secret nature of the plan was revealed quickly; u The air attack failed; u U.S. supply ships were sunk or driven off; u Our troops were bombed as soon as they hit the beach;

7 Errors in the Decision  Kennedy’s group of advisors miscalculated the effect of the invasion on the population of Cuba, expecting uprisings;  Later, the U.S. had to pay Cuba $53,000,000 to get the captured soldiers released from prison;  The whole effort was a grand fiasco;

8 Irving Janis  Janis wanted to understand how a blue-ribbon group could make such a terrible decision;  Janis believed that group dynamics were responsible for the poor decision making: he called it groupthink;  He suspected that other bad decisions made in the government were due to the same forces: The Challenger Launch;Pearl Harbor; invasion of North Korea;Vietnam war; Watergate coverup;

9 Groupthink: A Concurrence-Seeking Tendency Janis defines groupthink as: “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.” (p. 220, Griffin, 1991)

10 Groupthink Occurs  When cohesiveness is high;  A shared “we feeling” of solidarity and desire to maintain relationships within the group at all costs;  Yet, typically it has been thought that high-cohesive groups are more effective than low- cohesive groups in achieving their goals;

11 Cohesive Issue  Janis thinks that the high- cohesiveness of a policy making group endangers independent and critical thinking;  Janis’ position is that the consensus-seeking tendency of close-knit groups can cause them to make inferior decisions;

12 SYMPTOMS OF GROUPTHINK 1. Illusion of invulnerability : members feel that they cannot be wrong; 2. Belief in inherent morality of the group: the group never questions that it is on the side of truth, justice, and goodness; 3. Collective rationalization : Members reassure one another of certain beliefs [that are incorrect] ; 4. Out-group stereotypes : Cuban air force was seen as obsolete, the army as weak, & Castro as stupid--all wrong;

13 Symptoms of Groupthink 5. Self-Censorship: An individual may not want to be an isolated, dissenting voice--there is a pressure toward uniformity; 6. Illusion of Unanimity: An atmosphere of assumed consensus--silence is taken for consent;

14 4/20/2015 Groupthink Symptoms 7. Direct Pressure on Dissenters: the discussion is structures so as to suppress negative reactions; the agreement to do X becomes associated with some value-- e.g., manhood; 8. Self-Appointed Mindguards: “Mindguards” protect a leader from assault by troublesome ideas (e.g., “now is the time to just stand by the leader”); 1

15 GROUPTHINK IN EVERYDAY LIFE  Groupthink theory maintains that groupthink can occur in any group where members consider loyalty to the group more important than the action it decides to take;  Not all cohesive groups end up succumbing to groupthink;  Cohesiveness is a necessary but not sufficient condition for excessive concurrence seeking;

16 Antecedent Conditions of Groupthink  A Cohesive Group of Decision- Makers [just discussed];  Structural Faults of the Organization;  Situational Context;

17 Cohesive Group + Structural Faults + Situational Context =  A tendency for groupthink concurrence-seeking: u Overestimation of the Group: symptoms 1 & 2; u Closed-mindedness: symptoms 3 & 4; u Pressure toward uniformity: symptoms 5, 6, 7, & 8; (p. 224)

18 The 8 Symptoms of Groupthink Lead to  Defective Decision-Making 1. Incomplete survey of alternatives; 2. Incomplete survey of objectives; 3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice; 4. Failure to reappraise initially rejected alternatives ; 5. Poor information search; 6. Selective bias in processing information at hand; 7. Failure to work out contingency plans; Low probability of successful Outcome

19 Situational Context 1. High stress from external threats with low hope of a better solution than the leader’s ; 2. Low self-esteem temporarily induced by: a. Recent failures; b. Excessive difficulties on current decision making task that lowers members’ self efficacy; c. Moral dilemmas: Apparent loss of feasible alternatives except ones that violate ethical standards;

20 Structural Faults of the Organization 1. Insulation of the group; 2. Lack of tradition of impartial leadership; 3. Lack of norms requiring methodical procedures; 4. Homogeneity of members’ social background and ideology; 5. Etc.

21 IT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAPPEN  Cohesiveness is one element;  When the structural faults are present, and the context facilitates not trusting in your own ability to choose, the probability of groupthink increases; 2

22 To Reduce the Groupthink Taking Over  Changes can be made in: u Insulation of the group; u Impartial leadership; u Procedural methods (e.g., encourage dissent);

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