minority influence, shared representations, Zeitgeist effects
Past research has shown that minorities arguing in favor of the majority opinion within a given population (i.e. the ‘Zeitgeist’) are more powerful sources of social influence than minorities arguing against the normative population opinion (i.e. Clark & Maass, 1988a and b; Paicheler, 1977). We studied the Zeitgeist effect within the context of freely interacting groups discussing the death penalty. In direct contrast to past research, minorities arguing against the death penalty Zeitgeist were more powerful sources of social influence than those arguing in favor of it. Analyses of conversation content and thought-listing data suggest that minorities arguing against the death penalty may have been more influential because they were appealing to a superordinate shared belief system within their respective groups.
Smith, Christine M.; Dykema-Engblade, Amanda; Walker, Angela; Niven, Tammi S.; and McGough, Thomas, "Asymmetrical Social Influence in Freely Interacting Groups Discussing the Death Penalty: A Shared Representations Interpretation" (2000). Peer Reviewed Articles. 52.