Groupthink is a term used by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972) describing a situation where a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”.

Is ‘Groupthink’ a dynamic that applies to the Regional Council’s decision-making on its plans for water storage in the Tukituki catchment?

Here are Janis’ eight symptoms of groupthink:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability –  Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.


Tom Belford

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  1. Tom, great post.
    Paul is correct, it does apply to the HBRC but it also applies to the Leamings at the NCC– on the same issue. That is on the millions of Napier ratepayers dollars “invested” in a commercial gamble of running buses from the inner city to Ahuriri.
    The HBRC, have for over 12 months run a very efficent service covering the same routes. Although efficent it is hugely unprofitable with only 2 or 3 passengers per ride utilising the service.
    Perhaps one of my NCC employees could provide the costings and ongoing losses for this duplication and confirm that the same financial rigour was employed as was the case with the viewing platform at Te Mata Peak.
    If there was then this loss making venture would never have been contemplated.
    Clearly, there is zero communication between our two local authorities resulting in huge on-going losses to support the unsupportable..
    This is yet another case of ” shared services ” being given mere lip service and another reason for amalgamation of our 5 councils to proceed with haste.

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