SP Unit day 4

Group Think
Social Psychology Unit
Group Think:
• Definition: When a group of “relatively” intelligent
people unintentionally make poor decisions.
• Examples:
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Bay of Pigs
Our Strategy in Vietnam
The Collapse of Swissair
Group Think
• Always keep in mind that the
Group Think is a bad thing
that happens when smart
people get together and
unwittingly make bad
Group Think
1. Diffusion of Responsibility: When you have a large
group, no one individual feels totally responsible for
any decision you make.
2. An illusion of Invulnerability: the false belief that
there is no way you can loose or no way you might
make a bad decision
3. Unquestioned belief in the group’s morality: When
you assume that everyone in the group has good
intentions and no ulterior motives.
Group Think
4. Rationalization: attempting to justify a hasty or bad
5. Stereotyped view of opponent: prejudging your
opponent or a person (usually in a negative way) based
on the group they are associated with.
6. Conformity Pressure: when you are in a group, you
want to please the group or you are afraid of being
punished by the group, so you agree with them.
Group Think
7. Self-Censorship: you choose not to say something in
front of the group that you think the group might not
agree with or like.
8. Illusion of unanimity: the false belief that everyone
else agrees with the groups decision.
9. Mindguards: this is when people in the group do not
consider or look for any information that might
contradict their opinion or desired course of action.
Why did we invade
• We believed they had weapons of mass destruction
• We believed Iran and North Korea had them too.
• We Believed that Iraq was an easier target and would send a
message to North Korea and Iran
• We believed they were involved in 9/11
• We knew that a lot of Saudi Arabians were involved in
• We wanted to spread democracy to the Middle East
Group Think:
Invasion of Iraq
1. Diffusion of Responsibility:
Example: Other countries believed that Iraq had WMD as well. Both
Republicans and Democrates voted to act against Sadam.
2. An illusion of Invulnerability:
Example: We believed that for a small amount of money, a few troops, and a
year or two we could easily defeat an infereior military and population who
did not like their leader
3. Unquestioned belief in the group’s morality:
Example: Did we consider that military leaders wanted to just play with their
new weapons and seek after promotions and glory. Pres. Wanted to avenge
their father’s shame, some people stood to make millions by going to war.
Others wanted to test out their ideological theories.
Group Think
4. Rationalization:
Example: Our/the international policy on re-emptive strikes. We
can’t afford to wait. If we don’t do anything the terrorist win. Even
if we don’t find WMD, Sadam is a bad guy and we want Iraq to be
5. Stereotyped view of opponent:
Example: All Iraqis want to get rid of Sadam. They have a weak
military and a weak will. They want a secular democracy with a free
market economy. “They will welcome us as liberators.”
Conformity Pressure:
Example: “So you want the terrorist to win? “ The Secretary of the
Army and the Secretary of the Treasury were fired for saying things
the Administration did not want to hear.
Ethnicity/Oil Fields
Gulf wars
• 1990 Gulf War objective: Remove Iraqi military form
• -We used 800,000 Troops (500,000 American, 300,000
• -Result: War was over in 100 hours. We kept a small force in
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to keep Sadam in check.
2003 Gulf War: Defeat the Iraqi military, change their style
of government and economics, replace or retrain their
military and police force, provide security in the
-We wanted to only use 150,000 US troops and 30,000
coalition troops.
-We planned to start pulling out the majority of troops within 6
Iraq, Kuwait, Iran
Iraq: 33 Million
Kuwait: 2.8 Million
Iran: 74.7 Million
Number of
Troops/Cost of War
• Secretary of the Army said:
• We will need 500,000 troops
• He was fired and we found someone who said we could
do it with 150,000
• Secretary of the Treasury said:
• White House said it would cost between 60-100 Billion
“Iraqi oil revenues will pay for reconstruction”
White House economic advisor says it will cost 200 Billion.
He was fired
• The Iraq war ended up costing 1 Trillion dollars
Group Think
7. Self-Censorship:
Example: Nobody is willing to point out that 20% of the Iraqis will not be
excited about this. Or that we are seen as Pro-Israeli Occupiers in the middle
east. If you spoke out against the plan you done as a Gov Employee. Even
the press did not ask any hard questions.
8. Illusion of unanimity:
Example: No reputable Democrats spoke out. Even Collin Powell, the
moderate one was used as the messenger at the UN.
9. Mindguards:
Example: We did not plan for the reconstruction, we did not have a plan for
what to do with the Military or Police force. We didn’t consider that the
majority party in a democratic election might ally with Iran. What happens
if a civil war breaks out.
• http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/lead
• PBS Frontline: War Behind Closed Doors
• David Meyers’ College Social Psychology Textbook