Groupthink is a term coined by Irving Janis in 1972. It occurs when a group of individuals make faulty decisions in an effort to reach a consensus while avoiding conflict.
While there have been examples in history of groupthink with extreme consequences, groupthink also happens often on a smaller scale – like in your group projects or student organizations.
Groups that fall into this trap are usually from similar backgrounds and separate themselves from outside opinions. On top of that, they almost always do not have a clear decision making process. To combat groupthink, Janis offers these tips when working in groups:
- Assign each member the role of “critical evaluator.”
- Avoid expressing opinions when assigning tasks to a group.
- Set up several independent groups, working on the same problem.
- Examine all effective alternatives.
- Discuss the group’s ideas with trusted people outside of the group.
- Invite outside experts into meetings.
- Make a group member the Devil’s advocate.
Have you ever fallen into groupthink with your group? Tell us about it in the comments.