Frequently Asked Questions About Political Psychology

Do you also believe in the saying that “two heads are better than one?” Well, when it comes to the decision-making process and task accomplishments, it serves its purpose well. Two minds working together to build a solution is better than a single struggling idea. Two different ideas can get a hold of what is an appropriate resolution for the situation. Thus, perhaps the saying is true after all since most of the time, a two-man-team decision works best.

So imagine if there are more than just two people in the room discussing a potential decision that would change the world, it would be great, right? Everyone can share their thoughts about the particular subject, and they can all learn from each others’ point of view. But what if the decision-making process is not that ideal as it does not turn out the way it is supposed to?

Are you familiar with the Bay of Pigs Invasion back in 1961? Do you know what the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986 was? How about the bombing of Hiroshima? Do you have an idea what these events have in common? It is a failure. These moves resulted in a bigger disaster due to what Irving Janis called group thinking.”

Irving Janis explained group thinking as a source of excessive optimism that often discounts warnings. He believes that the other person’s motives are ethical and that people outside the group have no right to contradict the said resolution, regardless of it being ineffective. If you haven’t heard of this, allow these frequently asked questions to guide you through.


What is groupthink by Irving Janis? 

A social psychologist named Irving Janis developed a term called groupthink in 1972. It refers to the suboptimal or faulty decisions made by a group due to social pressures. It is a phenomenon in which approaching issues or matters are dealt with by the consensus or deals with the poor examination of decision objectives.

 What is groupthink in psychology? 

In psychology, groupthink is an observable fact when a set of people reaches an agreement without working on critical reasoning or evaluation. Usually, alternatives and consequences are disregarded. Groupthink is based on the general desire not to upset most people’s stability despite being situationally inapplicable. Thus, illogical or dysfunctional decision-making is always the result.

 What is an example of groupthink? 

Groupthink is an irrational decision-making process that allows people to minimize conflict and reach a compromising decision without any critical evaluation. Though this may often sound a good way to deal with different people with different opinions, most of its outcomes are unfavorable. A well-known example of groupthink is the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. It is where Engineers knew months before takeoff that there are some faulty parts in the space shuttle. But revealing it would invite negative press, so they pushed ahead with the launch anyway despite that information.

 What are the eight symptoms of groupthink? 

The eight symptoms of groupthink include self-censorship or the act of refraining from expressing something. There is the illusion of unanimity where the group relies on silence as a way of consent. Groupthink also includes mind guards, where a member of a group serves as an informational filter that only provides limited information to the group. There’s also a loss of morality. Another one is the rationale that ignores and discount warnings and negative feedback. Then there is pressure and stereotypes. It also includes invulnerability or the creation of excessive optimism that encourages people to take abnormal risks.

 Why is groupthink dangerous? 

Groupthink can be dangerous as it can lead to collective rationalization. It can also influence a lack of personal accountability, contains no clear rules, and often requires pressure to comply. Groupthink is a frequent factor in bad decision-making that promotes serious ethical breaches. It encourages group members to pay no attention to possible troubles with the group’s decisions and markdown others’ ideas and opinions. Groupthink can be toxic to teams and organizations as it promotes overall group isolation and decision-making stress.

Also, group-thinking ultimately leads to poor decisions because it ignores significant information that can be damaging even in minor situations. It disregards dire consequences in certain settings as it tends to overlook the negatives.


 Why is groupthink bad? 

Groupthink is considered a bad trait as it leads to bad decisions. It encourages group members to disregard small and major possible problems with the group’s unhealthy decisions. Groupthink makes the whole group discount the opinions and ideas of outsiders as everyone only focuses on their compromising resolution. It influences choices and outcomes most of the time without any clear rules for decision-making.

It becomes unnecessary in time-bounded decision-making because it relies on instantaneous progress and demands a fast decision. It becomes bad and unreliable due to lack of opposition and blindness to potential problems.

 What are the characteristics of groupthink? 

Groupthink characteristics include the illusion of invulnerability, unquestioned belief, shared illusion of unanimity, self-censorship, stereotypical views, and direct pressure.

What are the symptoms of groupthink? 

One of the common signs of groupthink is rationalization. It prevents members from re-evaluating beliefs and causes everyone to ignore warning signs. Many projects increase commitment when decision-makers undervalue the risk and overestimate the group’s possibility of success. Groupthink is toxic to organizations and their teams as it can inhibit innovation and make workers feel pressured to obey the rules.

 Can groupthink be positive? 

Though many people see groupthink as a bad habit and a reason for failure, there are some good sides. Groupthink can promote a united front. It can work on an immediate implementation once the decision-making process is complete. Leaders often encourage groupthink intending to put confidence in everyone to trust in their ability to lead effectively.

 What is the best example of groupthink? 

Examples of groupthink include excessive optimism, discounting warnings, and failure to express doubts, worries, or differing opinions. There is also the pressure of always agreeing to everything and not opposing other members of the group. It also involves a belief that the other person’s intentions are ethical and a belief that people on the outer group are troublemakers or the ones that cause conflict.

 What is groupthink, and how can it affect an organization? 

Groupthink affects an organization due to the decision-making process that preserves the status quo instead of dissenting opinions. It connotes a dangerous activity as it can be toxic to teams. It can hold back productivity and innovation and can make everyone in the group feel pressured to comply. In most instances, the cost of groupthink isn’t that serious but can create long-term damaging effects to the organization.

 How do you deal with groupthink? 

To deal with groupthink, everyone in the group should consider everybody’s role. Each person is critically important for the team. Thus, there should be an organized space. It is vital to make time for an independent evaluation to avoid disregarding possible solutions. Group members should encourage personal and professional development on each member. It is essential not to decide without evaluation so that everyone can celebrate good perspectives.

 Is groupthink always bad? 

Groupthink can be helpful at some times. However, since people ignore important information that ultimately leads to poor decisions, groupthink becomes bad even for minor situations. Yes, it might set out to be a big deal, but it can still create more dire consequences in certain settings.


 How do you escape groupthink? 

To help avoid groupthink:

  1. Make sure your decision-making process includes a contribution from all group members involved in the assessment.
  2. Listen to each suggestion so the team can open an alternative perspective for discussion.
  3. If possible, discuss the group’s ideas and opinions and an outside member to get neutral suggestions.

 What causes groupthink?

Groupthink is often unavoidable because people have this sense of desire to critique a position, present alternatives, or express an unpopular opinion. There are several main causes of groupthink, and these involve bad and good leadership, decision-making stress, overall group isolation, and group cohesiveness. Usually, this high level of cohesiveness creates self-censorship only to harmonize the decision within the group.


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