Symptoms of groupthink To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977). 1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking. 2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions. 3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions. 4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid. 5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty". 6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus. 7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement. 8. Mindguards â self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information. Groupthink, resulting from the symptoms listed above, results in defective decision making. That is, consensus-driven decisions are the result of the following practices of groupthinking: 1. Incomplete survey of alternatives 2. Incomplete survey of objectives 3. Failure to examine risks of prefered choice 4. Failure to reevaluate previously rejected alternatives 5. Poor information search 6. Selection bias in collecting information 7. Failure to work out contingency plans. Groupthink and de-individuation Cults are also studied by sociologists with regards to groupthink and its effect on deindividuation. The textbook definition states deindividuation as the loss of self-awareness and evaluation apprehension; occurs in group situations that foster anonymity and draw attention away from the individual (Myers, 305)  Preventing groupthink According to Irving Janis, decision making groups are not necessarily destined to groupthink. He devised seven ways of preventing groupthink (209-15): 1. Leaders should assign each member the role of âcritical evaluatorâ. This allows each member to freely air objections and doubts. 2. Higher-ups should not express an opinion when assigning a task to a group. 3. The organization should set up several independent groups, working on the same problem. 4. All effective alternatives should be examined. 5. Each member should discuss the group's ideas with trusted people outside of the group. 6. The group should invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts. 7. At least one group member should be assigned the role of Devil's advocate. This should be a different person for each meeting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink See also: cults, mob mentality, lynch mobs, mass psychological movements, the republican party, fascism, behavior of sheep, collective resentments, "they are with us or the terrorists", fallacy of false dilemma, crowd psychology, mobocracy, mobile vulgus, might makes right, demagoguery, collective hysteria, mass psychogenic illness, collective obsessional behavior, bandwagon effect, witch hunt, Hysterical contagion, Emergent-norm theory, and ET Town collective psychosis.