Minority Influence

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  • Minority Influence
    • Minority Influence and Behavioural style
      • Consistency:
        • When first exposed to a minority with a different view they assume they are wrong
          • If the minority adopt a consistent approach others reassess the situation and consider it more carefully
            • Wood carried out a meta-analysis of 97 studies of minority influence and found that minorities who were perceived as being especially consistent in expressing their position were particularly influential
      • Commitment:
        • Commitment is important because it suggests certainty, confidence and courage
          • Greater commitment may persuade majority group members to take them seriously or even convert to the minority position
      • Flexibility:
        • Mugny suggests that flexibility is more effective at changing a majority opinion than rigidity of arguments
          • Minorities are typically powerless compared to the majority and must negotiate their position rather than enforce it
            • Minority that is too flexible and too prepared to compromise risk being seen as incosistent
    • Key Study: Moscovici (1969)
      • Procedure:
        • Groups of 4 naïve PP's and a minority of 2 confederates
          • They were shown a series of blue slides that varied in intensity and they were asked to judge the colour of each slide
            • In the consistent condition the confederates called the slide green repeatedly and in the inconsistent condition the confederates called the slides green 2/3 of the time and on the other third called them blue
            • Control condition where 6 naïve PP's and no confederates - called the slides blue throughout
      • Findings:
        • The consistent minority influenced the naïve PP's to say green on over 8% of the trials
        • The inconsistent minority exerted very little influence
        • After the study was over Were asked individually to sort 16 coloured discs into either blue or green 6 of the discs were from the blue or green end of the spectrum  so PP's had to establish a threshold fro the other 10
        • PP's from the consistent and inconsistent conditions set their thresholds at different points
          • Those in the consistent judged more discs as green than those in the inconsistent group
            • The affect was greater if they didn't go along with the minority suggesting the influence was at a private rather than public level
    • Evaluation:
      • A tipping point for commitment:
        • Xie discovered a tipping point where the number of people holding a minority position is sufficient to change majority opinion
          • Developed computer models of social network individuals free to chat with each other across networks
            • Each individual held a traditional view but open to other views
            • They then added committed individuals representing an alternative point of view which they consistently expressed
            • After a while of listening to each other opinion began to shift
              • The percentage of committed opinion holders necessary to tip the majority into accepting the  minority position was 10%
      • Minority influence in name only:
        • Despite evidence for higher quality decision making Nemeth claims that it is still difficult to convince people of the value of dissent
        • People accept the principle only on the surface however quickly become irritated by a dissenting view that persists and also fear the lack of harmony in a group by welcoming dissent
        • As a result we attempt to belittle the dissenting view or try to contain it as people are encouraged to fit in and made to fear repercussions e.g being marginalised and ridiculed
          • This means that the majority view persists and the opportunities for innovative thinking associated with minority influence are lost
      • Do we really process the minority's message more:
        • Mackie argues that the views of the minority do not necessarily lead to greater processing but it is the majority who are more likely to create a greater message processing
          • We tend to believe that the majority of the group members share similar beliefs to ours if the majority express a different one from the now we hold
            • By contrast people tend to not waste time trying to process why a minority's message is different therefore tends to be less rather than more influential
      • The real value of minority influence:
        • Nemeth  argues that dissent in the form of minority opinion opens the mind
          • As a result of exposure to a minority position people look for information consider more options and make better decisions and are more creative
        • Dissenters liberate people to say what they believe and they stimulate divergent and creative thought even when they are wrong
          • This view is supported by work of Van Dyne and Saavedra who studied the role of dissent in work groups finding that groups improved decision quality when exposed to minority perspective
      • Research support for flexibility:
        • Nemeth and Brilmayer studied the role of flexibility in a simulated jury situation
          • When a confederate put forward an alternative point of view and refused to change his position this had no effect on the other member of the group
          • If the confederate compromised and therefore showed some degree of shift towards the majority did effect the rest of the group
            • This was only evident in those that shifted late into the negotiation as they seem to give in the the majority


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