Rob Melendez, MD, MBA

What is groupthink?

Groupthink

Rob Melendez, MD, MBA

 

This term was coined by a social psychologist Irving Janis (1972). Groupthink occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgement.” Consider avoiding groupthink in your practice and while serving on committees.

 

When a practice experiences groupthink they can become too optimistic to the point that they take extreme risks. Individuals can also discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.

 

Symptoms of Groupthink

  1. Having an illusion of invulnerability
  1. Rationalizing poor decisions
  1. Believing in the group’s morality
  1. Sharing stereotypes which guide the decision
  1. Exercising direct pressure on others
  1. Not expressing your true feelings
  1. Maintaining an illusion of unanimity
  1. Using mindguards to protect the group from negative information

 

Recommendations to avoid Groupthink:

 

  1. Use a policy-forming group which reports to the larger group
  1. Having leader remain impartial
  1. Using different policy group for different tasks
  1. Dividing into groups and then discuss differences
  1. Discussing within sub-groups and then report back
  1. Using outside experts
  1. Using a Devil’s advocate to question all the group’s ideas
  1. Holding a s “second-chance meeting” to offer one last opportunity to choose another course of action.

 

Irving, Janis. (1972). Victims of groupthink. Boston: Houghton Mifflin; Irving, Janis. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascos. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

 

 

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