GROUPTHINK

One liability of a cohesive group is its tendency to develop group think a disfunctional process. Group think is the tendency in cohesive groups to seek agreement about an issue at the expense of realistically appraising the situation. With group think, group members are so concerned about preserving the cohesion of the group that they are reluctant to bring up issues that may cause disagreements or to provide information that may prove unsettling to the discussion. Irving Janis, the originator of the group think concept, describes group think as "a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgement" resulting from in-group pressures.

Certain conditions favour the development of group think.

  1. Highly cohesive groups tend to avoid conflicts and to demand conformity.
  2. Another condition (antecedents) includes directive leadership, high stress, insulation of the group, and lack of methodical procedures for developing and evaluating alternatives.
  3. Having to make a highly consequential decision that has great impact on the group members and on outside parties.
  4. When group members feel that they have limited time in which to make a decision, they may rush through the process.

These antecedents cause members to prefer concurrence in decisions and to fail to evaluate one another's suggestions critically. Such tendencies can have disastrous consequences when major issues are being considered.

A group suffering from group think shows recognizable symptoms.

Group Polarization: Group polarization is the tendency for group discussion to produce shifts towards more extreme attitudes among members. The tendency toward polarization has important implications for group decision making. Groups whose initial views lean a certain way can be expected to adopt more extreme views following interaction. Several ideas have been proposed to explain why group polarization occurs.

They are -

  1. The Social Comparison Approach: Prior to group discussion, individuals believe they hold better views than the other members. During group discussion, they see that their views are not so far from average, so they shift to more extreme position.
  2. Persuasive Arguments View: It contends that group discussion reinforces the initial views of the members, so they take a more extreme position. Both these processes cause the group to develop more polarized attitudes. Group polarization leads groups to adopt extreme attitudes. In some cases, this can be disastrous.

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Principles of Management and Organisational Behaviour Topics