Robert T. Golembiewski
University of Georgia
The psychological drive for consensus, which tends to suppress both dissent and the appraisal of alternatives in small decisionmaking groups. Groupthink tends to occur when individuals value membership in the group and identify strongly with their colleagues. It may also occur because the group leader does not encourage dissent or because of stressful situations that make the group more cohesive. The essence of it though, is that the members suppress doubts and criticisms about proposed courses of action, with the result that the group chooses riskier and more ill-advised policies than would otherwise have been the case. Groupthink, because it refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency and moral judgment due to in-group pressures, has an invidious connotation. The term derives from Irvin L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes (1972).
Social commentary in Western settings has long been full of references to the negative features of groups or other human collectivities. The autonomous individual has reigned in many circles as the ideal, and human aggregates often have been portrayed as a major cause of the fast fall from inherent grace of people when they are part of some human aggregate. Thus many early commentators were impressed by the power of people in collectivities, and this basic perception often got translated as a fear of "the mob" or the "the group mind" that could arouse normally docile and God-fearing folk to do things they otherwise would not even contemplate (e.g., Golembiewski 1962, esp. pp. 8-26).