The review by Bill Jamieson of the soon to be published book on why governments make mistakes (Perspective, 22 August) offers much food for thought, regardless of one’s political sympathies.
However, considering that “many tomes have been written” about such mistakes as the Iraq war, the Child Support Agency, the Holyrood Parliament and trams etc, no-one seems to have taken the obvious step and asked a psychologist what’s going on.
In fact, any student of organisational psychology could tell you about the phenomenon of “groupthink”, first described in 1972 by a psychologist called Irving Janis.
He observed that decision-making groups, especially those with high status, tend to search for immediate agreement on a course of action, and if dissenting voices arise, these are stereotyped and marginalised (hence the unhappy experiences of whistleblowers).
I can’t help thinking that if psychologists received the same degree of respect in government organisations as accountants and management consultants, we might see much more sensible decisions being made by those who represent us.
(Dr) Mary Brown