26 May 2019

26th May 1918 - Dr Irving Janis was born


Dr Irving Janis was born on 26th May 1918.

In the 1950s he researched stress and wrote the book 'Psychological Stress'.

He then went on to investigate decision making and coined the term groupthink to describe the way groups can make bad decisions by becoming too conformist. Over time groups can reinforce their own views and reject the views of those who disagree. His book 'Victims of group thinking' presented a number of high profile political decisions where groupthink led to bad decisions including: Pearl Harbor, where America did not prepare for an attack from Japan despite warnings; and the unsuccessful escalation of the Vietnam War. Groupthink could also happen in a clinical or business or moral context.

Irving suggested it might be best for others to be invited to express their opinions so that all voices have their say, and then the leader express their opinion. If a group pays attention to those with different opinions and takes their arguments seriously then group think is less likely.

Thanks to the today in psychology history for the date, and Wikipedia for the details of his life.

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