In 1972, Irving Janis invented the psychological term ‘Groupthink’ which refers to the phenomena of concurring and conforming to the group to reach an undivided decision overrides the realistic appraisal of the alternatives (Janis, 1972). According to Janis, Groupthink is a result of cohesiveness in groups (Lewin, 1930) and an important factor to consider in decision processes such as workshops, meetings, conferences, committees etc.
Groups involved in groupthink often do not consider all alternatives and instead prefer to reach a unanimous decision thus compromising the quality of decision. It affects the mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgements due to pressures of seeking concurrence from the group.
Cohesiveness in the group:
The concept of groupthink is based on the assumption that strong group cohesion is likely to provoke group-thinking. This is the first antecedent of the concept of groupthink. In addition to that, two other primary antecedent conditions which are vital for the development of groupthink in terms of group characteristics are:
The leader’s preference for a certain decision:
This antecedent condition refers to the lack of a leader who is impartial and there is only directive leadership. There is also a lack of group norms which favour procedural, method-based and homogeneous member attitude, social backgrounds and ideology. This antecedent prevents and insulates group members from certain information which the leader does not want to share with them. This antecedent particularly causes structural faults in the group.
Insulation of group from qualified outside opinion:
This is the situational antecedent condition to groupthink. It includes highly stressful threats from the external environment and justifies the leader’s action to insulate the group from critics. Highly complex and excessively difficult decision making as well as recent failures may lead to low self esteem of the group members. Lastly, moral dilemmas following the group members may also become the antecedent of group-thinking.