Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam i 191
Goals/end/group behavior/Pratkanis/Turner/Group psychology: (…) individuals seek to maintain a positive image of their group and are more reactive to potential threats to that image. Image-threatening events, which can include complex and consequential tasks (particularly when they are subject to public scrutiny) shift group members’ goals towards image maintenance and away from other ends (e.g., deliberative, systematic decision-making). To the degree that image maintenance is supported by groupthink symptoms (e.g., beliefs in inherent morality, collective rationalization, stereotyping of outgroups), decision quality by the group tends to deteriorate. (Turner and Pratkanis (1998a)(1)).
Haslam I 194
Adding nuance to Janis’ posited goal states (>Goals/Janis), Turner and Pratkanis (1998a)(1) and McCauley (1998)(2) point out that the goal of achieving consensus can serve different functions – for example, protecting a social identity or regaining a sense of certainty. In some instances (e.g., under collective threat), the goal of achieving consensus may be associated with specific content: that is, group members may want to reach consensus around a particular conclusion (e.g., a positive group image). In other cases (e.g., under deep uncertainty), any consensus at all might be acceptable, making groups willing to accept negative self-perceptions so long as they are convergent (e.g., see system justification theory; Jost and Banaji, 1994)(3). >System justification.
Haslam I 195
Packer/Ungson: other potential goals could include:
- a desire for the group to engage in effective collective action (for which consensus is perhaps a means to an end);
- a desire for the group to reach a decision quickly (heightened perhaps in crisis situations, and reminiscent of speed/accuracy tradeoffs endemic to human cognition; e.g., Tversky and Kahneman, 1974)(4);
- a desire for the group to reach a decision with little effort (heightened when the group is overburdened with many complex issues);
- a more individual set of desires to be positively regarded and to retain one’s position in the group (as per McCauley’s (1998)(2) social discomfort hypothesis). >Groupthink/Psychological theories.
Identification/goals: Pursuit of group-related goals – whatever they are – is stronger to the extent that members identify with their groups (Abrams and Hogg, 1988)(5). Strongly identified group members seek to be regarded as loyal and to make decisions that serve the interests of the group.
Norms/accuracy/Packer/Ungson: any one of the goals that conflict with accuracy and deliberation could produce groupthink-type symptoms, although, as pointed out by McCauley (1998)(2), the underlying mechanisms and precise manifestations could differ as a function of the goal in question (e.g., some producing internalization, some compliance).



1. Turner, M.E. and Pratkanis, A.R. (1998a) ‘A social identity maintenance model of groupthink’, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 73: 210–35.
2. McCauley, C. (1998) ‘Group dynamics in Janis’ theory of groupthink: Backward and forward’, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 73: 146–62.
3. Jost, J.T. and Banaji, M.R. (1994) ‘The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 33: 1–27.
4. Tversky, A. and Kahneman, D. (1974) ‘Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases’, Science, 185: 1124–3.



Dominic J. Packer and Nick D. Ungson, „Group Decision-Making. Revisiting Janis’ groupthink studies“, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Turner, Marlene
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017


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