Essay on Groupthink: Space Shuttle and Group Member

1004 Words Sep 28th, 1999 5 Pages
Groupthink What is groupthink? There is a simple definition for it, but is it truly that simple? The term groupthink refers to the inclination of group members to have the same opinions and beliefs; it frequently leads to mistakes. It often occurs without an individual being aware of it. Conflict is considered to be a harmful element when related to groups, but conflict is good when considering groupthink because it helps to eliminate the existence of a groupthink. The explanation sounds simple enough, but it is more complex than the description given. There are eight symptoms of groupthink. The first symptom is when all or most of the group view themselves as invincible which causes them to make decisions that may be risky. …show more content…
The last symptom is the members that set themselves up as a buffer to protect the group from adverse information that may destroy their shared contentment regarding the group's effectiveness and morality. Unfortunately defective group decisions are made which lead to undesired consequences. These consequences can lead to monumental fiascoes. One such fiasco took place in the mining town of Pitcher, Oklahoma in 1950. A mining engineer warned the miners that their town could cave in at any moment from excessive excavating. He suggested immediate evacuation of the town. The leading citizens of the town held a meeting and mocked the engineers' warning. A few days later, the disaster hit, taking the lives of those who refused to leave. They followed the poor decision made by the leading citizens of the town. All seven symptoms were present in the 1950 mining disaster. A second example of groupthink would be the events surrounding the space shuttle Challenger, the product of flawed decisions. The evidence was inadvisable to launch the space shuttle at the earliest opportunity. NASA's perspective was that is was undesirable to delay the launch because of the impact it would have on political and public support for the program. Authorities dismissed potentially lethal hazards as only acceptable risks because of NASA's engineer's pressure to launch. The decision to launch the shuttle