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Pearl Harbour

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  • March 17, 2012
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Analyzing the “Pearl Harbor” case, it could clearly be seen that the military exhibited some of the classic symptoms of groupthink.

Illusion of invulnerability:

-The military developed excessive optimism that blinded them from seeing the warnings of danger. The US navy felt superior and believed that the Japanese wouldn’t risk the attack.

-The Commander in Chief eliminated the possibility that his home naval base Pearl Harbor would be the target and neglected all the evidence that was relevant in showing that there is a high possibility in the launch of the attack to be at Pearl Harbor.

If this symptom did not exist there could have been an eye opener to the relevance of the “Pearl Harbor” attack and a strategy could have been put in place.
Collective Rationalization:

-It could be seen that the group norm is that “Pearl Harbor is safe”. Therefore, when warnings from outside the group suggested otherwise, officers focused on reasons to reject the warnings rather than on reasons to accept and react to them.

-Officers filtered out facts that do not fit with their existing interpretation and emphasized any piece of evidence that reinforces it.

This symptom could have been eliminated by looking at the alternatives, reading the indicators and not neglecting any piece of evidence. The US navy should have re-examined the course of action initially favored by the majority, to look for non-obvious risks and drawbacks that had not been initially considered. By doing so, the officers might have detected evidence that is contradicting to their findings and this could have changed their decisions.

Stereotypes view of Opponent:

-The US navy viewed their opponent as “weak” and cannot possibly defend themselves against the planned initiative.

This symptom could have been overcome by “expecting the unexpected” approach. The US navy should have viewed their opponent as “strong and unbeatable” in order to build up an undefeatable strategy of...