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Mary Damm

on 23 April 2013

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Group Think and
Other Contributors The Sandusky Scandal General Information Sandusky, Asst. Football Coach at Penn State faced 52 allegations of abuse on 10 boys. Found guilty of 45/48 standing allegations on 8 victims. A report by Freeh, former FBI director, revealed multiple Penn State staff had knowledge of the abuse for over a decade. Group Think [failure to consider relevant info when making a
decision (Janis 1972) that stems from a psychological
drive for consensus and occurs when group is cohesive,
leader is biased, procedures are unclear, and members
are homogenous (Fiske, 2010, p. 518)] Group Think Symptoms: Illusions of morality: unquestioned belief in the group's superior morality leads them to ignore undesirable consequences
Collective rationalization: discount warnings that would cause them to reconsider their assumptions.
Self-censorship: engage in self-censorship of deviation from the apparent group consensus, by minimizing the importance of own doubts.
Pressure on dissenters: exert direct pressure on any member who argues against any of the group's commitments.
Mindguarding: avoiding information that might shatter the complacency about the effectiveness of the group's decisions.
Appparent unanimity: Despite personal doubts, share an illusion that unanimity regarding the decision exists within the group.
^(Wood, 2012) Mindset of an Abuser From Zastrow and Kirst-Astrow's text Understanding Human Behavior in the Social Environment page 221:
--abusers aren't strangers; they're people close to them who they already know and trust
need for personal support and nurturance
social isolation
communication and relationship difficulties
poor parenting skills
poor general coping skills
extreme stress and life crisis Statistics Why it matters consider Asch's Conformity Experiment...

It happens all the time on big and small scale levels; for example... the Titanic, Challenger, Jonestown... Who and Why
President Graham Spanier: said reporting Sandusky would be 'inhumane"(McCann, 2012)
Joe Paterno: PS Board of Trustees fired for failed leadership; discouraged people from involving police; longtime knowledge of abuse (McCann, 2012)
Athletic Director Timothy Curly: failed to report
Senior VP Gary Schultz: failed to report

play 1:30-3:00mins Staff Failure In an investigation lasting more than seven months, Louis J. Freeh, a former director of the F.B.I., found a legendary football coach bending his supposed bosses to his will, a university staff that was mostly unaware of its legal duties to report violence and sexual abuse, and a university president who hid problems from the board of trustees and was guided by a fear of bad publicity (Perez-Pena, 2012) Counter Group Think! Developed by Janis, 1972:
1. Each member should be allowed to freely air objections and doubts
2. Higher-ups should not express an opinion when assigning a group task
3. Set up several independent groups to work on the same problem
4. Examine all effective alternatives
5. Discuss ideas with people outside of the group.
6. Invite outside experts into meetings and allow questions/discussions
7. Play Devil’s Advocate Other Examples of Group Think The Bay of Pigs invasion. An invasion was planned by the Eisenhower administration, but accepted by the Kennedy administration without question when they took over. The administration ignored questions and accepted stereotypes about the Cubans without questioning whether the Central Intelligence Agency information made sense.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many of the senior officers at Pearl Harbor did not take warnings from Washington DC about potential invasion seriously despite the fact that Japanese messages had been intercepted. Those who didn't take action believed that the Japanese wouldn't dare to attempt an assault against the U.S. because they would recognize the futility of war with the United States.
The collapse of Swissair. The airline was once so financially solvent it was called the "Flying Bank." However, they began to believe they were invulnerable and as a result of failing to question poor decisions and gross mismanagement, the airline eventually went bankrupt.
The mass resignation of the Major League Umpires Association. The members resigned in 1999 in an attempt to gain a stronger negotiating position. They overestimated the resolve and unity of their members and the strength of their position within major league baseball. As a result, their efforts were not effective.
^Examples provided by LoveToKnow, 2013 provided by the USD of H & HS
--sexual abuse accounts for approx 17% cases
--equal victimization among boys and girls
--50% white victims
--disabled and babies are at very high risk
--alcohol is a huge factor
--less than 4% cases committed by strangers
--abuse cases likely 3X higher (54% sexual abuse cases alone go unreported) Histrionic Disorder psychologist says Sandusky has personality disorder (Morgan & Simpson, 2012)

symptoms from DSM:
pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking indicated by five+ symptoms
1.uncomfortable when not the center of attention
2. inappropriatley sexual interactions
3. shifting and shallow expression of emotions
4. uses physical appearance to gain attention
5. speech is impressionistic and lacking in detail
6. shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
7. easily influenced by others or circumstances
8. considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are
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