Why might groupthink be more likely to happen in criminal justice organizations versus other public or private sector organizations?
In order to answer this, let us first think about some aspects of groupthink. Groupthink is a phenomenon in which all members of an organization come to think in the same way. They do not question the conventional wisdom of the group that they are in. In such situations, people tend towards “power overestimation.” This means that they think that their group’s moral purpose is absolutely good and so there is no reason to question what is done in pursuit of that goal. Second, they tend to put pressure on one another to conform and to think in uniform ways. Let us look at why these tendencies are particularly likely in the criminal justice system.
Power overestimation is very likely because the criminal justice system does have a high moral purpose. It is meant to protect law-abiding citizens from those who do wrong. Therefore, it is natural that people in this system will think that whatever they do is right because it protects the people.
Pressure to conform is also very likely to happen. This is because people in the criminal justice system tend to see one another as a special group. They wear uniforms that help to emphasize how special they are. They see other people as “civilians.” Because they see themselves as a special group, they put pressure on one another to conform to the values of that group.
For these reasons and others, people in the criminal justice system might be more likely to engage in groupthink than people in other areas of work.