Testing the groupthink model: Effects of promotional leadership and conformity predisposition

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Noni Richardson Ahlfinger
James K. Esser
Cite this article:  Richardson Ahlfinger, N., & Esser, J. (2001). Testing the groupthink model: Effects of promotional leadership and conformity predisposition. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 29(1), 31-42.


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Two hypotheses derived from groupthink theory were tested in a laboratory study which included measures of the full range of symptoms of groupthink, symptoms of a poor decision process, and decision quality. The hypothesis that groups whose leaders promoted their own preferred solutions would be more likely to fall victim to groupthink than groups with nonpromotional leaders received partial support. Groups with promotional leaders produced more symptoms of groupthink, discussed fewer facts, and reached a decision more quickly than groups with nonpromotional leaders. The hypothesis that groups composed of members who were predisposed to conform would be more likely to fall victim to groupthink than groups whose members were not predisposed to conform received no support. It is suggested that groupthink research is hampered by measurement problems.

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