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Groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon happening within a cluster of persons under which the aspiration for conventionality within this cluster results in a biased outcome in the decisions made.
The main underlying assumption towards belonging to this cluster is the need to minimize conflict through blind conformity. Thus, an individual caught up in a groupthink phenomenon is blindly loyal to a set of thoughts or actions for fear of being controversial as a result of exercising independent thinking.
The often dysfunctional dynamics within such a group generates what is commonly referred to as an “illusion of invulnerability”1.
Actually, the groupthink psychology makes persons belonging to this group to belief in universality of their decisions as right without accommodating the opponents’ abilities, which are often underrated. In the worst case, groupthink orientation in the decision making process may generate actions that are dehumanizing those perceived as belonging to the opponent quarter.
High-Quality Decision Making
The process of high-quality decision making is dependent on heuristic since it provides assumptions, integration of options, and rational control. Decision environment often experience dynamics and swings which create short and long term effect on chances of survival for two alternatives to solve a problem.
When faced with a decision problem that requires critical assessments, high-quality decision making process resorts to analytical tools that ensure competitive positioning advantage and rationality. Each option is assigned to a quadrant with predetermined response strategies and ‘follow-ups’ upon each decision made2.
Differences between Groupthink and High-Quality Decision Making
High-quality decision making functions on the presence of rationality and verifiable facts, irrespective of the position or situation that the decision making agents are in. Unlike groupthink decision making process, high-quality decision making incorporates a series of perspectives through which the final decision is identified via a qualitative analysis.
Therefore, high-quality decision making relies heavily on the pillar of alternatives through research and knowledge of the situation or problem.
On the other hand, groupthink (‘ingroup’) decision making process only accommodate the views of a cluster of individuals who belong to similar orientation and cannot exercise independent thinking. Decision making through groupthink is very biased since the underlying determinants of the decision matrix is loyalty and “illusion of vulnerability”3.
Since high-quality decision making process operates on the periphery of rationality parameter, the final verdict can be described as reliable and accommodate variant views. Given that different aspects of decision making such as assumptions, integration of options, and rational control are integrated, most of visible or invisible biases are dampened as the effects of social presence elevate the decision science.
Unfortunately, the groupthink phenomenon has structural faults which prevent the benefits of reliability and social effects since it is characterized by a context of provocative situation.
Besides, groupthink decision process is characterized by internal or external pressures for a consensus which may generate accord-seeking propensities. Unlike high-quality decision, groupthink creates a false illusion which is inherently dysfunctional4. An example of groupthink is the decision biases that led to an attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in the year 1941.
Persons entrusted with the responsibility of rational decision making allowed shared rationalizations and illusions to shadow their judgment on the need for precautions. However, the attack could have been avoided had the decision makers embraced the components of high-quality decision making.
Fiske, Susan, and Shelley Taylor. Social Cognition: From Brains to Culture. California, Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2013.
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Schafer, Mark, and Scott Crichlow. Groupthink vs. High-Quality Decision Making in International Relations. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010.
1 Mark Schafer and Scott Crichlow, Groupthink vs. High-Quality Decision Making in International Relations (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010), 51.
2 Susan, Fiske, and Shelley Taylor, Social Cognition: From Brains to Culture (California, Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2013), 23-29.
3 Mark Schafer and Scott Crichlow, Groupthink vs. High-Quality Decision Making in International Relations (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010), 51.
4 Mark Schafer and Scott Crichlow, Groupthink vs. High-Quality Decision Making in International Relations (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010), 51.