Dr. Mo Bahk
June 4, 2003
Groupthink Theory was first defined by Irving Janis in the early nineteen-seventies, and tries to explain how poor decisions are made by groups during the brainstorming process. Groupthink is concerned with the quality of decision-making in the group setting, but should not be confused with theories focused on explaining excellent group decisions. It tries to explain why a group decides on decisions that, in hindsight are considered ill advised and incompetent.
This study will focus on three previous studies that examined the factors that contribute to the groupthink process, all of which were based on Janis’ previous definitions and theories. The bases for the studies were what Janis had eluded to in the seventies, and a definition of groupthink must be understood to comprehend the findings of the three studies.
Infante (2003) provided an excellent definition of groupthink by stating what it is not. “Groupthink is not critical thinking where decisions are made based on thorough discussions of the problem…Groupthink does not involve group argumentation where ideas are tested for validity.”
The clearest way to understand groupthink is top realize it is a negative thing; it is a communication process that develops when group members begin thinking similarly, which reduces the probability of effective decision reaching. It is also important to understand the factors necessary for groupthink to exist, which was the base used as a starting point for these three studies.
A high level of cohesiveness is usually present when groupthink occurs, and there is a great reluctance on the part of group members to stray from the group’s position. This “oneness” associated with cohesiveness is typically a desirable condition except when the group relies too much on solidarity that the desirable ends are not focused on. Cohesiveness is just one of three conditions necessary for groupthink to...