Five distortions that afflict groups: group think, false consensus, chill, and passive-aggressive, and dominance

Groupthink: Group members can collectively – and often unconsciously – pressure dissidents to agree to a position the majority favors. According to James Dunning’s recent comment “’Groupthink,’ as it is known in less eminent circles, can literally be lethal – the Columbia space shuttle disaster but one awful example. Dunning applies the notion to the legal context (See my post of Jan. 15, 2006: groupthink.).

False consensus: when people in a group, especially the leader, believe – erroneously – that members feel the same way they do about values (See my post of July 14, 2009: the false consensus illusion.).

Chill: when the dominance of one member – often the general counsel or ranking lawyer – quells contrary thoughts or difficult questions that members might raise (See my post of Feb. 1, 2006: how to reduce the chilling effect.).

Passive Aggressive: when group members outwardly appear to go along with a decision they do not like, but inwardly resist and later sabotage the decision (See my post of Jan. 17, 2006: passive-aggressive.).

Domination: Some loud mouths hog the airwaves and leave little opportunity for others to speak (See my post of Feb. 18, 2009: ten ways to hear from everyone in a group; and March 15, 2009: recipe cards with anonymous comments.).

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