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