by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
influence, studies

Are You More Or Less Likely To Change Your Mind When The Majority Disagrees With You?

from the psychological-theories dept

There are a few different theories on how people react to finding out that they're in the minority on some particular viewpoint. One theory suggests that, when confronted with people disagreeing with our viewpoints, we just dig in stronger in order to validate our own self-worth. The other side of the argument, however, is that our need for social acceptance means that if we find ourselves in the minority, we may be more likely to change our opinion in order to remain socially connected to others. Apparently some researchers at HP decided to put some of this to the test to see which of the two theories held more sway. In this case, they asked people choose which piece of furniture they liked better out of two pieces. At some later time, they asked the same people the same question -- but also gave a count of how many people preferred each piece of furniture. What the researchers found was a bit unexpected: when a lot of people "disagreed" with the person's choice... they were more likely to stick to their original choice. When a smaller number of people disagreed, they were more likely to switch their vote. So, in the face over overwhelming opposition, it seems people are more ready to dig in. In the face of moderate opposition, they may be more open to changing their views. So, from now on, if everyone disagrees with me, I'm just going to have to dig in even stronger, because this report says that's the thing to do... (yes, that's a joke).

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  1. icon
    A Guy (profile), 20 Sep 2011 @ 9:21am

    Re: Science is not done by show of hands.

    At least one 10 year study disagrees with your stance on whole grains.

    Maybe the only benefit was the people consumed less of what was actually terrible for them and ate whole grains instead, maybe whole grains are inherently good for you. Either way there does seem to be a benefit for at least some people.

    And here's a paper that debunks your serum cholesterol stance with extensive citations.

    I'm glad we have Google now. Just think, when that study was published it would have taken more than 15 min to debunk people with dangerous medical ideas.

    I didn't bother to look up statins. Someone else can... or not.

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