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Group Think

March 31, 2006

I don’t know if you followed the link to the article on Group Think but here are a few things to consider.

A crucial facet of the groupthink phenomenon is that it is a Pathology, and that any group so organized it is dysfunctional. Generally speaking, the members of any group suffering from this pathology will not only disregard advice contrary to their views, they cannot even comprehend it.

Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Here are some interesting facts.

psychologist Irving Janis coined the phrase Group Think

and observed these:

Janis listed eight symptoms that he said were indicative of groupthink:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability
  2. Unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group
  3. Collective rationalization of group’s decisions
  4. Shared stereotypes of outgroup, particularly opponents
  5. Self-censorship; members withhold criticisms
  6. Illusion of unanimity (see false consensus effect)
  7. Direct pressure on dissenters to conform
  8. Self-appointed “mindguards” protect the group from negative information

Finally, the seven symptoms of decision affected by groupthink are:

  1. Incomplete survey of alternatives
  2. Incomplete survey of objectives
  3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
  4. Failure to re-appraise initially rejected alternatives
  5. Poor information search
  6. Selective bias in processing information at hand (see also confirmation bias)
  7. Failure to work out contingency plans

It seems our sins of predjudice in churches (not just race but anyone different) has in many cases caused unhealthy behavior. Funny how that works don’t you think.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2006 5:34 pm

    This reminds me of the movie “Broken Arrow”. It is scary to know something happens so often they have coined a term for it.

    Scary to me that I recognize the scenario described all too well.

  2. April 1, 2006 7:38 am

    Janis describes perfectly the legalistic church I was raised in many years ago.

    Christians involved in a “groupthink” my-way-or-the-highway church would read these listed symptoms and never even realize they fit into these categories.

  3. April 1, 2006 12:18 pm

    Wow… I saw myself in this too much! Definitely regarding my church history, but also in general. When you’re a natural people-pleaser like me IT IS SCARY TO BREAK OUT OF THE MOLD AND THINK FOR YOURSELF. What will people think? What will they say? Am I going to hurt their feelings?

    Contrary to how it appears… it’s not comfortable for me to be as different as I am. But it’s more uncomfortable to stay the way I was.

    The love of Christ compels me…


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