Psychology: Minority Influence

  • Created by: nataliak
  • Created on: 23-01-17 08:41

What is minority influence?

Minority influence is a form of social influence in which the minority of people persuade others to adopt their beliefs, therefore becoming the majority. This leads to internalisation/conversion, in which private beliefs are changed as well as public ones.

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How does a minority influence become a majority in

The first main process in minority influence is consistency. Consistency in the minority's views increases the interest of other people. This might be either synchronic consistency (all saying the same thing) or diachronic consistency (saying the same thing for some time). This process of consistency is effective as it draws attention to the minority view. An example could be the suffragettes.

The second process in minority influence is commitment. Commitment to the minority influence, for example through extreme activities, in the case of suffragettes violent marches, which were a risk to them, show committment to the cause. Majority groups paying more attention because of this is called agumentation principle.

The final significant process in minority influence is flexibility. Instead of being constantly consistent by repeating the same arguments and behaviours, members of the minority need to be prepared to adapt their point of view and accept counter-arguments. The key is to get a balance between consistency and flexibility.

The three factors cause people to switch from majority to minority. The faster this happens, the higher the rate of conversion is. This snowball effect results in minority becoming majority.

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Evaluation of minority influence and the process o

-Research supports consistency. Moscovici et al.'s study showed that a consistent minority opinion had a bigger effect than an inconsistent ones. Wood et al. carried out a meta-analysis of almost 100 similar studies and found that minorities seen as consistent were most influential.
-Research supports the depth of thought. Martin et al. gave participants a message supporting a particular viewpoint and measured their support. One group heard a minority group agree with the intial view whereas the other group heard this from a majority group. Then, participants were exposed to a conflicting view and measured again. He found that people were less likely to change their opinions if they listened to a minority group compared to a majority group. This suggests that the minority message has been more deeply processed and had more of an enduring effect.
-Research supports internalisation.  When Moscovici carried out a variation of his study where the participants could write their answers down and found that private agreement with the minority was increased. The members of the majority were being convinced by minority views but were afraid to admit so publicly, due to being considered 'awkward' or 'weird'.
-Artificial tasks. Such as identifying the colour of a slide - this is as artificial as Asch's line task. Therefore, findings are lacking in external validity and have a limited application, especially to real-life situations.

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Evaluation of minority influence and the process o

-Limited real-world applications. A significant limitation is that real-life social influence situations are much more complicated than the research carried out in controlled lab settings. For example, majorities generally have more power than minorities. Minorties are very committed to their causes because they often face hostile opposition. There is a large difference between minorities and majorities, something that cannot be measured with numbers.

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