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

The smaller the group, the higher the likelihood of groupthink. Pascal-emmanuel Gobry, WSJ, "The Failure of the French Elite," 22 Feb. 2019 Few arguments are sharpened through groupthink; most are improved by facing skepticism or different points of view. Laura Vanderkam, WSJ, "‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ Review: Fragile, Fearful, Feeling Aggrieved," 9 Sep. 2018 There’s no correlation between cohesion and groupthink. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Professor, psychologist and author Adam Grant on Recode Decode," 5 July 2018 Which is to say, people willing to challenge the groupthink that for too long included a stubborn resistance to admitting and addressing the company’s flaws. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook is pushing out its most creative skeptics," 28 Sep. 2018 Just another example of what is groupthink in action. Fox News, "Sean Spicer: CNN's Jim Acosta owes Trump an apology," 2 Aug. 2018 In a time of meticulous scripting and market research and political groupthink, these kids’ brash honesty and proposed policy solutions cut like sharp metal through the confusion. Lara Backmender, Glamour, "The March for Our Lives Activists Who Said Never Again," 1 Nov. 2018 This goes back to early ’70s that Irving Janis was the social psychologist who coined the term groupthink. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Professor, psychologist and author Adam Grant on Recode Decode," 5 July 2018 This is a smart way for individual managers to make investment decisions, even if the combined effect is a lot of groupthink and the familiar cycle of booms and busts. Omid Malekan, New York Times, "If Fund Managers Back Bitcoin," 27 June 2018

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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Last Updated

28 May 2019

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The first known use of groupthink was in 1952

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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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behavior toward others

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