Most broadly, groupthink occurs when a group makes suboptimal decisions because of process problems or communication problems due to SocialNormalization. Most or all of the group members may, privately, realize that the decisions are poor ones but feel powerless to change them for fear of offending other group members, injuring SacredCows, or detonating LandMines.
If everyone takes for granted the group's perceived opinion, the group will choke itself to death. This can give rise to the Wiki:AbileneParadox. Usually when this happens, the group is considered to have an identity all unto itself. Sometimes it gets fuzzy whether or not the individuals have identities or are even conscious. Sometimes it's fuzzy whether or not there's even such a thing as an individual. GroupThink is absolutely not collective intelligence. In CollectiveIntelligence, decisions are taken or opinions are set up by a group of people in such a way you can't distinguish an individual as the "author" of the decision or the opinion. To be achieved, it requires to get over groupthink. In the situation where groupthinking occur, each individual tend to conform his opinion to the opinion reached by the group. That often lead to bad choices, as no individual entirely agrees with what he finds himself ultimately supporting; also, it reduce creativity, as individuals tend to forget they have other choices than the one displayed by the group.
Further reading: Groupthink : Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, by Irving L. Janis
You will often see online people complain about GroupThink and how it must be combatted. This is justified by people's general, cynical understanding of groupthink. To quote an anonymous author on this page:
However, certain AntiAuthoritarians use GroupThink as a foil for their inappropriate behaviour. They rationalize or justify their anti-social and often (psychologically/sociologically) violent behaviour towards others by saying they are combatting GroupThink. People not used to this strategy, and those aware that GroupThink is an invisible evil, will be caught by this justification. They will begin to ask themselves whether or not they are experiencing GroupThink, and surely FreedomOfSpeech? is a paramount good? We should, therefore, allow this pesky irritant to annoy us for the sake of democratic principles.
But that is not exactly how life works. A pesky irritant is undoubtedly confronting and limiting someone else's rights or freedoms. And more to the point, the person who feels that it is necessary to be as annoying as possible to all types of people is likely to be very angry for some reasons that reach well beyond their interaction with the community (under an AngryCloud from birth). ControlYourself, but that also means we EnforceResponsibility.
GroupThink is only a problem when valid individual voices are squashed due to a collective unwillingness to listen. It is not GroupThink to police oneself. It is legitimate to not listen to someone trying to squash your voice. Rather, it is illegitimate to gain voice through ManipulativePower.
If there really was a problem with GroupThink, the best way to change that is to introduce contravening opinions in a constructive, positive way. The only way out of GroupThink is to lead. Creating a fight is only going to reinforce the GroupThink as it creates a SeparationOfPositions?. More to the point, it creates an UsAndThem situation by making the boundary of the group clear where before it was fuzzy; it at least signals to the group that the individaul AntiAuthorian? is outside the group, and thus that person will be perennially excluded.
If you are a victim of such a ploy, just ask the person to lead the group out of the groupthink, rather than try to fight it. Ask them to be constructive, and positive. Help them with this, as the real problem may be that they are lacking the social skills necessary to navigate group situations.
For similar manipulative reasons, the term "groupthink" is often used by trolls.
Leadership promotes and manipulates GroupThink. The only way out of GroupThink is to not follow. The simple statement "I dissent" is a better and non-violent way to not follow compared to the combatative approach of the typical AntiAuthoritarian.
As far as starving to death goes, I think that's highly unlikely. To start with, OddBalls? turn up and add a different personality to the mix. This helps prevent ThoughtStagnation? . Merely by being here, 'posting' something slightly different, I'm affecting others' thoughts and injecting something a little different, causing people to potentially behave a little differently than before they encountered me. Likewise, the different people here affect me and how I behave and this, in turn, filters into the way we all behave with each other. As with anything in life, there are factors which simply can't -be- factored (yet). For instance, one could argue a certain WayOfThought? needs to exist before one would even find oneself in a scenario like wiki. This suggests an IncestuousMindset? in the first place. However, this is offset by raw, potential growth. -- DominicBurns
A pod of whales, communicating at high bandwidth, function as a group incredibly well. They even work very well with humans with limited communication. We can't speak their language, they have to learn ours. Perhaps this is why a pod beaches themselves after losing a key member. They cannot function alone. Neither can we. -- JimScarver
People cooperate toward common goals, nothing new there. People form structured groupings to divide labor, provide for mutual defense, and so on. When it gets to be a problem is when a "group" is really a mob.
A collection of people who have no intentional common alignment is not a group in the "going somewhere together" sense. The bigger this collection gets, the narrower the scope of things they will all agree on. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the narrower scope doesn't tend toward greater benefit either for the group of its individuals. It tends to be more destructive.
If you extract the individuals and consult them directly you get a wide range of responses, complete with nuances. Asked the same questions while surrounded by a group, the answers are usually different.
Try this: Get a group of individuals, and survey them individually on some matter or other. If you "load" the questions you're going to get "loaded" results, so don't bother. Now, collect all these individuals together in a room and have them "vote" on the same matters. When we did this we found consistently that people didn't "vote" along the same lines as their stated individual preferences.
So, if you want a truer representation of the inclination of a group, ask the individuals *seperately* and not collectively.
GroupThink is, on the whole, a bad way to make decisions. You get better vectors if you collect each discrete vector and then average them, rather than poll a mob and take the resulting apparent vector.
I did some brainstorming on why GroupThink occurs just based on my own experience.
I think, though, the biggest reason people don't speak up in a group is that they are unsure of themselves, their status/position within the group, and the veracity of what they would say. People that HaveCourage? don't have trouble dissenting in a group, and conversely groups that AlleviateInsecurity facilitate more individual contributions. Perhaps groupthink is merely a failure mode of a community with weak BehavioralNorms? -- SunirShah [corsage] [boutonniere]
Seems to be a lot about status (continue brainstorming):
(I hesitate to post this, while SunirShah is away, since I'm interested in his thoughts on this.)
GroupThink is absolutely not collective intelligence.
By "GroupThink," I am meaning: The field of influence on thought, that a group exerts towards an individual. A good metaphor might be how bits of iron, in proximity, if aligned just so, start to exert a magnetic influence over the other pieces of iron.
My thought is that it is appropriate for groups to hold ideas, just as it is appropriate for individuals to hold ideas.
See: [CommunityWiki:SelectivelyOpenMinded.] The short of it is: it is appropriate for people to hold ideas. Ideas can and will be wrong, but this is to be expected- everything is in process.
Now I extend this to groups: This means that whole groups will hold ideas, and at least some of those ideas will be wrong. This should be okay - everything is in process. I am making the case that GroupThink is part and parcel of collective intelligence. In fact, I will go further, and argue that if a group does not exhibit GroupThink, that it cannot exhibit collective intelligence.
"Collective Intelligence" does not mean, "it came to the conclusions that I have already come to." It does not even mean, "it is a group that will listen and respond to me." Collective Intelligence (by my interpretation of it's use here,) means: A group of people who are adapting, learning, evolving, etc.,. Is GroupThink a part of this? Absolutely.
If groups cannot hold ideas, and if the group's ideas do not influence the group's membership, then the group cannot develop ideas.
Does the scientific community exhibit GroupThink? Yes. Are realizations "lost" because of this? I believe studies have shown: Yes, on many occasions. Could science develop if there were not GroupThink? I am very skeptical.
See also: [CommunityWiki:AreGroupsReal]