group think definition

Contributor(s): Miki Onwudinjo

Group think (also spelled groupthink) is a phenomenon that occurs when group's need for consensus supercedes the judgment of individual group members. Group think often occurs when there is a time constraint and individuals put aside personal doubts so a project can move forward or when one member of the group dominates the decision-making process. 

In a group think scenario, consensus is often derived by social pressures or by work flow processes that cannot accommodate change. Group thinking, which carries a negative connotation, can be contrasted with  collaboration, a scenario in which individual group members are encouraged to be creative, speak out and weigh many options before arriving at a consensus.

In acceding to group think, group members often choose not to explore alternative solutions as part of the decision-making process, either because it is easier not to go with the flow or because they do not want to be perceived as troublemakers and lose status within the group. As such, group think can blind individuals from considering future consequences, warnings and risks that result from their choices.

 

This was first published in October 2012

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