Groupthink occurs when a group of well-intentioned people make irrational or non-optimal decisions that are spurred by the urge to conform or the discouragement of dissent. This problematic or premature consensus may be fueled by a particular agenda or simply because group members value harmony and coherence above rational thinking. In a groupthink situation, group members refrain from expressing doubts and judgments or disagreeing with the consensus. In the interest of making a decision that furthers their group cause, members may ignore any ethical or moral consequences. Risky or disastrous military maneuvers, such as the escalation of the Vietnam War or the invasion of Iraq are commonly cited as instances of groupthink. The term was first introduced in the November 1971 issue of Psychology Today, in an article by psychologist Irving Janis, who had conducted extensive study of group decision-making under conditions of stress.
What Is Groupthink?
Groupthink in Everyday Life
Groupthink fosters a strong “us versus them” mentality that prompts members to accept group perspectives in the heat of the moment, even when these perspectives don’t necessarily align with their personal views. When the group identity is threatened, groupthink decision-making can be rushed and destructive (e.g., inciting a riot or other violent event). While it is often invoked at the level of geopolitics, groupthink can also refer to subtle processes of social or ideological conformity.