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Flashcards in Minority Influence Deck (16)
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What is minority influence?

- form of social influence in which a minority of people (sometimes just a single person) persuade/influence
others to adopt their beliefs, attitudes or behaviours
- will most likely leadto internalisation, in which private attitudes are changed as well as public behaviours
- distinct from conformity where the majority is doing the influencing (so confirming sometimes referred to as majority influence)


What are key processes that make minority influence more likely?

- consistency
- commitment


Explain the role of consistency in making minority influence more likely

- over time the consistency in the minority’s view increases the amount of interest from other people
- this consistency might be:
⭕️agreement between people in the minority (synchronic consistency)
⭕️enduring consistency (diachronic consistency: same ideas being reiterated over time)
- consistency makes people start to rethink their own views: “maybe they’ve got a point if they all think in this way” or “maybe they’ve got a point if they all keep saying it”


Explain the role of commitment in making minority influence more likely

- commitment to the cause helps gain attention
- sometimes minorities engage in quite extreme activities to draw attention to their views; it is important that these extreme activities are at some risk to the minority because this demonstrates commitment to the cause
- majority groups then pay even more attention (“wow, he must really believe in what he’s saying, so perhaps I ought to consider his view”)= augmentation principle


Explain how balance is needed between consistency and flexibility so they don’t appear rigid and dogmatic

- Nemeth argued that consistency is not the only important factor in minority influence because being extremely consistent and repeating the same arguments and behaviours again and again can be seen as rigid and dogmatic which is off-putting to the majority
- instead, members of the minority need to be prepared to adapt their point of view and accept reasonable and valid counter-arguments
- so the key is to strike a balance between consistency and flexibility


What is the snowball effect?

- over time, increasing numbers of people switch from the majority position to the minority position- they become ‘converted’
- the more this happens, the faster the rate of conversion = snowball effect
- gradually, the minority view has become the majority and so significant change has occurred


What’s a key study in which minority influence was investigated?

Moscovici- the blue-green slides


What was the procedure of Moscovici blue-green slides study?

- aim= to investigate the effects of a consistent minority on a majority
- lab study
-Moscovici demonstrated minority influence in a study where a group of 6 people were asked to view a set of 36 blue-green coloured slides that varied in intensity, and were then asked to state whether the slides were blue or green
- 3 conditions”
⭕️ in each group there were confederates who consistently said the slides were green
⭕️” who inconsistently said slides were green
⭕️control group with no confederates


What were the findings and conclusions of Moscovici blue-green slides study?

- in the consistent minority condition, participants gave the same wrong answer on 8% of trials and 32% gave the same answer on at least one trial
- in the inconsistent minority condition, agreement fell to 1%
- in control condition, participants wrongly identified the colour only 0.25% of the time


What are the evaluation points for minority influence?

✅ research evidence that provides importance of consistency (Moscovici + Wood)
❌ ecological validity (Edward Sampson)
✅ research supports the involvement of internalisation in minority influence
- research evidence to show that change to a minority position involves deeper thought (Martin et al)


Explain how research evidence provides importance of consistency (Moscovici)

- Moscovici et al’s study showed that a consistent minority opinion had a greater effect on other people than an inconsistent opinion
- Wood et al carried out a meta-analysis of almost 100 similar studies and found that minorities who were seen as consistent were most influential
- suggesting that consistency is a significant factor in minority influence
- however Moscovici used female students as participants (i.e. unrepresentative sample), so it would be wrong to generalize his result to all people (would be element of beta bias) as they only tell us about the behavior of female students. Also, females are said to be more conformist than males, therefore there might be a gender difference in the way that males and females respond to minority influence. Another critic could be that four people are not enough for a group and could not be considered as the majority.


Explain how a limitation of minority influence research is that most of the research is based on experiments conducted in laboratories ( Edward Sampson)

-most of the research on minority influence is based on experiments conducted in laboratories. This raises the question of ecological validity. Is it possible to generalize from the findings of laboratory research to other settings?
- Edward Sampson (1991) is particularly critical of laboratory research on minority influence. He makes the following points:
- the participants in laboratory experiments are rarely 'real groups'. More often than not they are a collection of students who do not know each other and will probably never meet again
- they are also involved in an artificial task. As such they are very different from minority groups in the wider society who seek to change majority opinion
-for example, members of women's rights, gay rights and animal rights organizations, members of pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are very different from participants in laboratory experiments. They operate in different settings with different constraints. They often face much more determined opposition. They are committed to a cause; they often know each other, provide each other with considerable social support and sometimes devote their lives to changing the views of the majority.


Explain how research supports the involvement of internalisation in minority influence

- in a variation of Moscovici’s blue-green slide study, participants were allowed to write their answers down, so their responses were private rather than stated out loud
- surprisingly, private agreement with the minority was greater in these circumstances
- this indicates that internalisation had taken place- members of the majority had been reluctant to admit their ‘conversion’ in public
- Moscovici thought that this was probably because they didn’t want to be associated with a minority position, for fear of being considered ‘radical’ or even ‘a bit weird’


Explain how there is research evidence to show that change to a minority position involves deeper thought (Martin et al)

- Martin et al gave participants a message supporting a particular viewpoint and measured their support
- participants then heard an endorsement of the view from a minority or from a majority
- participants were finally exposed to a conflicting view and attitudes to the new conflicting view were measured again
- Martin et al found that people were less willing to change their opinions to the new conflicting view if they had listened to a minority group rather than if they had listened to a majority group
- this suggests that the minority message had been more deeply processed and had a more enduring effect


What is the augmentation principle?

If there are risks involved in putting a point of view across, then those views are taken more seriously by others because they are willing to suffer= their impact on other group members is augmented (increased)


What is the snowball effect?

Suggests that once a few members of the majority start to convert to the minority position, then the influence of the minority begins to gather momentum as more people gradually pay attention to potential correctness of minority view