Minority Influence

September 21, 2006

Social Influence Equated with Conformity
‡ By the late 1960¶s research on social influence was focused completely on conformity. ‡ Focus on conformity is evident in the course readings up to this point.
‡ Social Norms, Group Polarization, Majority Pressure.

Origins of Conformity ‡ Social Norms: When faced with uncertainty. ‡ Norms are even more powerful when they become the focus of our attention. they feel alienated and less committed to the group. . people look to others to establish a collective frame of reference. ‡ When people feel that the group norms do not describe their personal behavior. ‡ People will continue to follow a norm even when it is arbitrary.

so I will be the BRAVEST person in the group. ‡ Because people want to be liked. .Drift Toward Similarity ‡ Group Polarization: Once the group has established agreement. they will try to exemplify the group¶s values and beliefs. this agreement becomes more extreme over time. ‡ Group polarization is the end result of a social comparison process. ‡ Example: This group values bravery.

. ‡ (3) People believe that they are right and the group is wrong but they yield to avoid a hassle. ‡ (2) People believe they are wrong and the group is right.Maintaining the Status Quo Through Majority Pressure ‡ Conformity: People will often ignore the evidence of their own senses to go along with a majority view the know to be wrong. so they yield. ‡ (1) People actually convince themselves that they are seeing what the group is seeing.

‡ Groups become more and more similar over time. ‡ Influence flowed from the majority to the minority and not the other way. ‡ Peoples¶ primary motivation is to be liked and accepted and their greatest fear is to be different and alienated.Myopia of Majority Influence ‡ Moscovici faced with a field that was completely focused on conformity. .

From Majority to Minority Influence ‡ Conformity does not account for the full range of human behavior. ‡ People sometimes resist the group to tell the truth as they see it (e. New ideas always reflect a minority viewpoint. but the group may eventually come to accept them. protests).g. ‡ Influence must flow from the minority to the majority or else groups would never change. ‡ Majority does not always rule: Some conflicts are never resolved. . ‡ Groups change over time.

Minority Influence? .

Naked people have little or no influence on society. how? ‡ When are minorities the most/least persuasive? ‡ What are the consequences of minority influence? .´ Mark Twain ‡ Can the minority influence the majority and if so.Toward A New Set of Questions ³Clothes make the man.

‡ Minority consistently said that the blue slides were green. . All slides were actually blue but varied in intensity. ‡ One confederate was the minority.Reversing the Asch Experiment ‡ Six naïve subjects constituted the majority. ‡ Subjects were asked to view a set of slides and state their color.

Results: Minority Influence ‡ Control condition not exposed to the minority only said green twice²less than 1% of the responses. ‡ Among those exposed to minority view almost 10% of the total responses were green and 32% of the subjects reported seeing green at least once. . ‡ Evidence for minority influence.

Key Question: HOW do minorities have influence ‡ When do minorities have influence and how? ‡ The answer lies in understanding their style of argumentation and how different styles are interpreted by the majority. ‡ Consider the following cases. .

‡ Freud: Proposed a theory of infantile sexuality. Women were revered for their virginity and simplicity. ‡ Reaction: Freud¶s work was censored. children can have hostile and erotic feelings. his followers were ³paranoid psychopaths´ .The Case of Freud ‡ Victorian Era: Books on etiquette were bestsellers. and a son can desire his mother. he was called a pervert. Sex was never discussed in public.

The Case of Galileo ‡ Catholic church: Held the conviction (based on their interpretation of the bible) that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun rotated about the earth. . ‡ Galileo: Argued that the earth rotated around the sun. ‡ Reaction: Brought before the inquisition and forced to recant under threat of torture.

‡ A minority must earn ³idiosyncracy credit´ to have influence (Hollander. 1964). demonstrated their competence and then slowly shifted their view over time. they should have first conformed to the group. ‡ Therefore.How did Freud and Galileo exert influence? ‡ Conventional wisdom tells us that we must win friends to influence people. .

. ³I think therefore that one has to be content to state one¶s point of view and relate one¶s experiences in as clear and decided a way as possible and not trouble too much about the reaction of one¶s audiences. ‡ KEY: Majority made certain assumptions about them based on their behavior.´ ‡ Galileo responded by publishing more evidence in support of his theories.Evidence for the power of consistency ‡ Freud responded.

‡ Result: Maybe they know something I don¶t? Gains legitimacy and the potential to have influence. ‡ Consistency triggers an attribution of confidence. Does this theory fit with your personal experiences? Have you ever witnessed a minority view come to be accepted within a group? .When Do Minorities Have Influence? ‡ Minorities have the most influence when they are consistent and maintain their viewpoint over time. ‡ Bottom Line: One need NOT win friends to influence people.

Caveat to Consistency: Appearing Dogmatic ‡ Exception when consistency is perceived to be dogmatic. People must be able to argue their position in a flexible way. does not lead to influence. ‡ Flexible: Ability to alternate between more than one counter-argument while maintaining the consistency of one¶s viewpoint. while consistent. ‡ Mindless repetition. ‡ Question: How can you differentiate between being consistent and being dogmatic? Is it always possible? .

. ‡ Double minorities tend to be less persuasive: A gay person arguing for gay marriage is less persuasive than a straight person arguing for gay marriage. ‡ Important role of assumed self interest.The Dilemma of the Double Minority ‡ Double Minority: When a person is a minority both in terms of their belief but also in terms of the social categories to which they belong.

power. ‡ This position has been strongly disputed. the majority will always have greater influence simply because of their larger numbers. . knowledge (2) Immediacy: Proximity in space and time (3) Number: Of group members ‡ All things being equal.Are Majority and Minority Influence Really the Same? ‡ Social Impact Theory: Influence is a multiplicative function of 3 factors: (1) Strength: Status.

while majority influence makes people think convergently (narrow minded).Next Week: Understanding and using minority influence ‡ Two reasons that majority and minority influence are not the same process: ‡ Majority influence results in compliance (going along in public. but not believing in private) while minority influence results in conversion (believing in private without acknowledging it in public). ‡ Minority influence makes people think divergently (open minded). .

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