group·​think | \ ˈgrüp-ˌthiŋk How to pronounce groupthink (audio) \

Definition of groupthink

: a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics

Examples of groupthink in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This open-mindedness helps us combat the moral perils of bias and groupthink. Hugh Breakey, Quartz, "Five ways to argue better," 6 Oct. 2019 Lack of it breeds groupthink—which in turn can lead to disasters. The Economist, "How to make your firm more diverse and inclusive," 7 Nov. 2019 Anyone who thinks economists are beholden to a market-loving groupthink has never been to an economics seminar. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "In defense of economics," 24 Sep. 2019 Excessive unity cultivates groupthink and breeds contempt for dissent. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Unity Can Be Worse than Partisanship," 26 July 2019 However, intense pursuit of a mission can foster groupthink and resistance to change. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "When You Fear Your Company Has Forgotten Its Principles," 17 Sep. 2018 The primary rule of this groupthink, though, is to refrain from editorializing on your own or anyone else’s ideas. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "The man who gave us brainstorming meetings did his best thinking alone," 6 Aug. 2019 This groupthink is complacent—and possibly dangerous. The Economist, "After years of plenty America Inc is struggling to crank out more earnings," 18 July 2019 The smaller the group, the higher the likelihood of groupthink. Pascal-emmanuel Gobry, WSJ, "The Failure of the French Elite," 22 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'groupthink.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of groupthink

1952, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for groupthink

group entry 1 + -think (as in doublethink)

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Time Traveler for groupthink

Time Traveler

The first known use of groupthink was in 1952

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Statistics for groupthink

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Groupthink.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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Financial Definition of groupthink

What It Is

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon whereby pressure within a group to agree results in failures to think critically about an issue, situation or decision.

How It Works

Let's say John, Jane, and Jeff are fund managers for the XYZ mutual fund company. They meet weekly to discuss their investing strategies and their top picks. The three get along well and trust each other's judgment.

One day, Jeff proposes buying shares of ABC Company for his fund. He plans to make a large buy and says he likes the company's fundamentals. John and Jane go along with the plan and buy the stock for their funds, too. Two weeks later, the stock has fallen by 50%.

John, Jane, and Jeff are the victims of groupthink. They didn't independently analyze the stock and relied on everyone else in the group to point out flaws in Jeff's thinking.

Psychologist Irving Janis coined the term in 1972. Janis cited eight signals of groupthink:

1. Excessive optimism
2. Discounting warnings
3. A belief that the other person's motives are ethical
4. A belief that people outside the group are troublemakers or create conflict
5. Pressure not to disagree with other members of the group
6. Failure to express doubts or differing opinions
7. Assumption that what most of the group believes is what all of the group believes
8. Members who "protect" the leader from conflicting information or dissenters

Why It Matters

In the investing world, groupthink is akin to a "herd mentality." Knowing how to recognize groupthink provides a tremendous opportunity for contrarians to recognize when investors are buying or selling without thinking. This allows contrarians to question trends and even go in the opposite direction.

Source: Investing Answers

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Comments on groupthink

What made you want to look up groupthink? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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