Monday, April 18, 2011

Groupthink, Groupthink, and more Groupthink

I took a kazillion psyche classes over the years.  The teachers that I had ran the gamut from the seemingly normal (I've since learned that ya just never know) to the mildly strange to the bizarre. Some of them were university instructors, some of them were practicing psychologists.  Still, I learned a lot.  One of the concepts I studied was "groupthink".

According to Wikipedia, "Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. It is a second potential negative consequence of group cohesion."   Wow - that says a lot right there.

Groupthink is a phrase that was coined by Irvin Janis, a forefather in the study of group dynamics. Some prime examples of groupthink are:  the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Challenger disaster, World War II, the failure to anticipate the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the escalation of the Vietnam War. While at Miami I wrote a convincing paper for a history class that purported that The Spanish Armada set sail under the flag of groupthink.   More recently it has been suggested that the current economic crisis and the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq were driven by groupthink. Although I agree that the war was started by a bunch of alpha-males in uniforms who have a lot of weapons that they were just dyin' to try out and led each other on until they put a lot of 18 and 19 year olds (both male and female because "We've come a long way baby!") on airplanes and shipped them half-way around the globe away from all that they know and all the while assuring them that they are saving the world, I think the economic crisis was influenced by another prime motivator - GREED.  

To combat groupthink Oregon State University offers advice here:

I have a better idea.  When someone asks you what you think, muster up the courage to speak your mind.  I try to do this and while I can say that it is NOT usually well received (I have recently been told that I am negative and can find something wrong in every situation), I can sleep at night. . .

Articles and Blog Posts for further scrutiny.
How Group Think Rules What We Like:
Egypt: The Groupthink Problem:
Does Social Media Produce Groupthink:

Cartoons to smirk at:

No comments: