Minority Influence

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  • Minority Influence
    • Minority influence is a form of social influence in which a minority of people persuades others to adopt their beliefs, attitudes or behaviours. This leads to internalisation or conversation, in which private attitudes are changes as well as public behaviours.
    • Moscovici (1969)
      • Procedure
        • Moscovici showed women a series of 36 blue coloured slides that varied in intensity and asked them to say whether the slides were blue or green.
        • Participants were put in a group of 6; 4 of the participants were real and 2 were confederate. The confederates said that the slides were green on two-thirds of he trails.
      • Findings
        • The participants gave the same wrong answer on 8.4% of trials, 32% gave the same answer as the majority on at least one trial
        • Therefore this shows that when the minority is consistent, there was more minority influence.
    • Consistency
      • Minority influence is the most effective if the minority keeps the same beliefs. Its effective because it draws attention to the minority view. Over time, the consistency in the minority`s views increase the amount of interest from other people.  
    • Commitment
      • Minority influence is more powerful if the minority demonstrates dedication to their position. E.g. making personal sacrifices. Sometimes minorities engage in quite extreme activities to draw attention to their views. Majority group members then pay even more attention. This is called augmentation principle. 
    • Flexibility
      • Minority influence is more effective if the minority shows flexibility by accepting the possibility to compromise. Nemeth argued that consistency is not the only important factor in minority influence. Being extremely consistent and repeating the same arguments and behaviours over and over can been seen as ridged, unbending, dogmatic and inflexible.
    • Snowball effect
      • It is the deeper processing which is important in the process of conversation to s different minority view point. Increasing numbers of people have switched from the majority to minority positions. They have all become “converted”. The more this happen, the faster rate of conversion. This is called the snowball effect.
    • Evaluation (AO3)
      • Research to support consistency 
        • Moscovici showed that a consistent minority opinion had greater effect on other than an inconsistent opinion.  Wood carried out a meta-analysis of almost 100 similar studies and found that minorities who were seen as being consistent were more influential. Therefore, this further suggests that consistency is a major factor in majority influence.
      • Research to support depth of thought 
        • Martin gave participants a message supporting a particular viewpoint and measured their support. One group of participants then heard a minority group agree with the initial view while another group heard this from a majority group. Participants were finally exposed to a conflicting view and attitudes were measured again. Martin found that people were less willing to change their opinions if they had listened to a minority group rather than a majority group. therefore, this suggests that the minority message had been more deeply processed and had a more enduring effect, supporting the central argument about how minority influence process works.
      • Artificial tasks 
        • A limitation of minority influence research is that the is the tasks involved such as identifying the colour of a slide are as artificial as Asch`s line judgement task. The research is far removed from how minorities attempt to change the behaviour of majorities in real life. Therefore, findings from Moscovici lack external validity and are limited in what they can tell us about how minority influence works in real life social situations.
      • Limited real-life application 
        • Research studies usually make a very clear and obvious distinction between the majority and the minority. The research done is conducted in labs which creates clear internal validity, but a significant limitation is that real –life social situations are much more complicated than this. There is more involved in the difference between minority and a majority than just numbers. Therefore, it is hard to generalise minority influence research to the whole population.   


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