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Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decision and Fiascoes
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 19th 1982 by Cengage Learning
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Steven Peterson
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
When you fill a room with smart, capable people, why do decisions sometimes go so wrong? Janis has one hypothesis: They can become victims of "groupthink." Groupthink refers to (Page 9) ". . .deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures." Janis describes the dynamic thus (Page 5):

"In studies of social clubs and other small groups, conformity pressures have frequently been observed. Whenever a member says something that sounds out o
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is fantastic. At first, it sounds (and is priced) like a bland textbook written by an academic. Actually, it's a set of stories about various White House successes and debacles, told from the perspective of a group psychologist. Janis pinpoints the moments where presidential advisers, on the verge of voicing their reservations about strategic decisions, were ultimately too timid to speak up. It gives a very unique perspective on executive decisionmaking and teaches the value of speaking you ...more
Laura Lartigue
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I recommend this book for anyone who has or might have to work in a group situation...duh, every professional should pick up this book! It offers great insights into group dynamics, and had made me rethink many group work situations I have been in, and why some "dissonant" groups I've been in have in the end produced some really great stuff. ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: analysis
A study of the phenomenon and dangers of Groupthink. The author assesses decision making in several policy fiascoes including Bay of Pigs, Pearl Harbor, Korean War, and VietNam to understand why that happened. As a controlled experiment, he looks at two reputed successes: the Marshall Plan and Cuban Missile Crisis. Subsequently he tests his model on Watergate. I enjoyed the case studies but felt that the book had considerable repetition. The intended audience is clearly an academic one and not t ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This and Tuchman's "March of Folly" should be required reading for all peoples of earth. The immense damage done by the faulty decision making laid out in both books can and should be avoided in the future. As a psychologist, Janis is also able to clarify the warning signs and dynamics that lead to dangerous decisions and how best to avoid them. Such a vital work. ...more
Jon Gary
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I constantly find myself applying lessons from this book to decision processes I lead at work. This book will teach you how to avoid the most difficult pitfalls of round-table or committee discussions by warding against the impulses for early consensus-seeking and deference to cognitive biases.

The deep-dive into recent (when it was published) historical events as examples is an effective ans accessible way to illustrate these pitfalls and reinforce to the reader that they are universal even at
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
Reread for applications to credit crisis.
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Irving L. Janis was a research psychologist at Yale University and a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley most famous for his theory of "groupthink" which described the systematic errors made by groups when taking collective decisions. He retired in 1986.

He also collaborated with Carl Hovland on his studies of attitude change, including the sleeper effect.

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