Cass R. Sunstein on Democracy - Dictionary of Arguments
Democracy/Discussion/Committees/Communication/Deliberation/Psychology/Sunstein: it is controversial today whether discussion always leads to better decisions. (1)
It can happen that group members put pressure on others, which can lead to extremism or unanimity with regard to false information.
Group Thinking/Irving L. Janis/Sunstein: Jani's thesis: Groups can easily lead to uniformity and dangerous self-censorship by not correctly combining information and extending disagreement to a wider area. (2)
The main problem is that groups usually do not use the knowledge that their individual members have. This became particularly clear in a 2004 Senate report on the CIA. (3) After this there was group pressure, neglect of alternatives, selective perception and suppression of criticism. (4)
Solution/Sunstein: in order to shed light on the weaknesses of communication in groups, we need to examine the consequences of two weaknesses:
a) information influences that lead to non-disclosure of divergent information by group members.
The pattern in these cases is: How can so many people be wrong?
b) Social pressure: you do not want to spoil it with superiors.
(See also SunsteinVsHabermas, Communication/Sunstein).
1. See Robert J. MacCoun, “Comparing Micro and Macro Rationality,” in Judgments, Decisions, and Public Policy, ed. Rajeev Gowda and Jeffrey C. Fox (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 121–26; Daniel Gigone and Reid Hastie, “Proper Analysis of the Accuracy of Group Judgment,” Psychological Bulletin 121 (1997): 161–62; Garold Stasser and William Titus, “Hidden Profiles: A Brief History,” Psychological Inquiry 14 (2003): 308–9.
2. Irving L. Janis, Groupthink, 2d ed., rev. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), 7–9.
3. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Report of the 108th Congress, U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq: Conclusions, 4–7 (full version, S. Rep. No. 108–301, 2004), available at http://intelligence.senate.gov.
4. Ibid. p. 4._____________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. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments 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.
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