Posted by: Silvia Pereida | November 11, 2019

Groupthink flaws and biases

Irving Janis developed “groupthink” as a theory to describe the process of dysfunctional thinking. Majority overrules individual thoughts, ideas, and conclusions. Chapter 8 explores the concept of groupthink, which has trickled into the realm of academia and popular culture. In group discussions people often agree with bosses, co-workers even though internally they disagree. Some of the reasons for a collective decision can be because of stressors like deadlines. Janis argues the symptoms of groupthink fit into three categories: overestimation, closed-mindedness, and pressure toward uniformity (Dainton & Zelley, 2019, p. 148).

In academia groupthink is looked at for its flaws in collective thinking and research. For example in a recent article, How groupthink is harmful in academia, it explains the flaws in scholarly research within a group of people who have the same set of world views or biases reflect in their research (Leef, 2019). An example of bias in academia happened when a Canadian professor had done a study that seemed to support his conclusion and no one disagreed. The academic assumption was that religious people are not open-minded. After reflecting on his study – the professor realized the sample group might have been skewed against religious people “No doubt it never occurred to us because not a single member of our lab had any religious inclinations at all” (Leef, 2019). To fix this, researchers and social scientists need to reach out to scholars in departments that do not hold dominant liberal views, in order to promote diverse dialogue (Leef, 2019).


Dainton, M., & Zelley, E.D. (2019). Group Communication. In Applying communication theory for professional life: a practical introduction (4th ed., pp. 143–150). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Leef, G. (2019, November 1). How Groupthink Is Harmful in Academia. Retrieved from


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