n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Groupthink in the South African Police Service : an experimental analysis

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Following from the concept of groupthink, coined by social psychologist Irving L. Janis in the early 1970s, this study focuses on several detective groups in the South African Police Service's Gauteng province in order to determine the existence of the groupthink phenomenon. Police detectives were chosen for this analysis based on characteristics of police officers, described as a police sub-culture, in general literature on the police. Through a literature review of Janis's groupthink concept, the researchers identified four independent variables that were manipulated within an experimental research design to detect and evaluate the presence of groupthink and its impact on group decision-making directed to group task performance. The specific hypothesis tested was that groups of South African Police Service detectives with high internal group cohesion, low external group respect, low organizational security and directive leadership would lead to ineffective decision making during an escalation dilemma task. Through a multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) test, the research results indicate that the four independent variables did indeed contribute to groupthink during an escalation dilemma task. Although the MANOVA test indicates that these variables had an effect on groupthink, the Pearson correlation coefficient suggests that the simple inclusion of these four predictors in the model underspecifies the conditions of the groupthink phenomenon.

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