What is groupthink? There is a simple definition for it, but is it truly that simple? The term groupthink refers to the inclination of group members to have the same opinions and beliefs; it frequently leads to mistakes. It often occurs without an individual being aware of it. Conflict is considered to be a harmful element when related to groups, but conflict is good when considering groupthink because it helps to eliminate the existence of a groupthink. The explanation sounds simple enough, but it is more complex than the description given.
There are eight symptoms of groupthink. The first symptom is when all or most of the group view themselves as invincible which causes them to make decisions that may be risky. The group has an enormous amount of confidence and authority in their decisions as well as in themselves. They see themselves collectively better in all ways than any other group and they believe the event will go well not because of what it is, but because they are involved. The second symptom is the belief of the group that they are moral and upstanding, which leads the group to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of the decisions. The group engages in a total overestimation of its morality. There is never any question that the group is not doing the right thing, they just act. The disregarding of information or warnings that may lead to changes in past policy is the third symptom. Even if there is considerable evidence against their standpoint, they see no problems with their plan. Stereotyping of enemy leaders or others as weak or stupid is the fourth symptom. This symptom leads to close-mindedness to other individuals and their opinions. The fifth symptom is the self-censorship of an individual causing him to overlook his doubts. A group member basically keeps his mouth shut so the group can continue in harmony. Symptom number six refers to the illusion of unanimity; going along with the majority, and the assumption that silence signifies consent. Sometimes a group member who questions the rightness of the goals is pressured by others into concurring or agreeing, this is symptom number seven. The last symptom is the members that set themselves up as a buffer to protect the group from adverse information that may destroy their shared contentment regarding the group’s effectiveness and morality.
Unfortunately defective group decisions are made which lead to undesired consequences. These consequences can lead to monumental fiascoes. One such fiasco took place in the mining town of Pitcher, Oklahoma in 1950. A mining engineer warned the miners that their town could cave in at any moment from excessive excavating. He suggested immediate evacuation of the town. The leading citizens of the town held a meeting and mocked the engineers’ warning. A few days later, the disaster hit, taking the lives of those who refused to leave. They...