Conformity occurs when someone voluntarily performs an act because others are doing it, it involves a change of behaviour or opinion in order to fit in with the group. From this stems two opposing views of influence, majority and minority influence. Minority influence is when a small number of people or an individual influence a larger group, whereas majority influence is when a group influences a minority of people or an individual. In this essay I will be concentrating on how minorities are thought to exert their influence, I will be using references and examples to justify this statement.
There are many real life examples, which can be used as examples one of which is the influence of late, Princess Diana. Diana devoted part of her life to making the world a better place; she influenced people for many reasons, the confidence and love she exerted to people, the good understanding and communication skills, which were portrayed in her personality. This sort of influence is called desirable minority influence, this is a good outcome.
An example of undesirable minority influence, which results in to a bad outcome, is the influence of Adolph Hitler during the Second World War. He had a major influence on a large number of people. Hitler’s powerfulness to persuade people into thinking the same way he did was immense, which ever way people want to look at it Hitler was a very influential talker this led to people believing that he was there for a good purpose, to make the world a better place, even if it meant the eradication of a whole religious population, people were willing to go to which ever extent necessary.
These people exerted there through personality traits or the status they had in society. Diana had a very high status she was once upon a time part of the royal family, she was young attractive female in her early thirties, she was a very peaceful and calm women. Hitler on the other hand was the total opposite to Diana, yet he still was highly influential person. Hitler had an elevated amount of confidence, due to this people believed in him, some people went to the extent of believing he was god, his courage and determination made him a very influential figure, he was very different to other leaders in society, he drew attention to himself this made people believe in him more.
Many people have done research to prove that minorities do exert influence. One of which was Moscovici (1976) Moscovici (1969) proposed that the behavioural style of a minority is important. His research procedure was like Asch experiment; Asch devised a simple experiment in which participants involved decided which line of varied lengths matched a standard line. Each test had only one naive participant; the others in each group were stooges (accomplices of the experimenter).
Moscivici’s experiment involved having subjects making judgements in the presence of the group. He showed subjects different coloured slides, which were unambiguous and members of groups of six were asked to name the colour of the slide. All the slides were blue but were diverse in their luminance. In a control group, all six subjects were naive, that isn’t to say there were no participants opposing the majority, almost all the slides were described as blue.
In the experimental group, however, two confederates were employed who consistently labelled the colour of the slides green. Subjects had previously been told that all group members had normal vision, so there was no suggestion that any of the participants gave incorrect answers due to colour blindness. With this minority pressure, about a third of the subjects reported seeing at least one “green” slide, and 8 percent of judgements were the slides were “green”. Clearly, the minority view had a noticeable effect on the naive majority.
Nemeth et al (1974) argued that rigid consistency is not necessary to influence. What is important is that the minority seem logical and certain. She repeated the Moscovici experiment but made one of the confederates alter his judgement after every slide, this resulted in 21% of consistent answers. In conclusion to all the information being enclosed I conclude that minorities have more influence when their position is taken seriously, and when it is higher, and seen as reflecting certainty and competence. People who are influenced by a minority are thought to experience conversion rather than mere compliance; that is, they don’t simply conform in public, but they also experience a change in their private convictions.
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