Book by: DeDreu, Carsten and De Vries, Nanne
Review by: Raina P. Martinez
TRiO/Student Support Services
Blue Mountain Community College
The most recent presidential campaign illustrated that those in the minority have influence over the majority; they may not change the minds of a majority of voters but they can direct the conversion. Group Consensus and Minority Influence: Implications for Innovation is the work of a group of researchers who came together to discuss and ultimately compile work based on Serge Mascovici’s empirical work Social influence and Social Change (1976)
It has been asserted that the power of majority resides in its ability to punish and reward group members. The minority’s influence involves process and validation since it lacks the power to reward or punish and cannot influence by sheer force. But, when the minority expresses its ideas repeatedly (resisting conformity) and with confidence, majority members will come to consider exactly what is being said and why.
Chapters deal with the subject of influence of majority and minority messages on individual perceptions, attitudes and judgments through contextual factors, processing motivations and dependent variables. It focuses on how minority members influence the majority within various experiments. As an example, one experiment dealt with color perception and presented a color that was obviously green to subjects. When a ‘naive’ participant hears a ‘confederate’ participant call the color “blue” scientists looked at how the ‘naive’ participant was influenced. Another chapter considered the effectiveness of influences of polls and commercials on what people consider “expected, normal and fashionable” (p. 40)
This book is geared toward those trained in the Psychology field. Those unfamiliar with the field’s terminology and acronyms will have a hard time understanding the vocabulary needed to clarify theories. For those trained in Psychology and who advise students in groups, this book may be useful since group dynamics can be influenced by those with a differing opinion. Additionally, the book would be valuable to managers in settings where workers participate in the problem solving for the betterment of the department or institution. While I found the most helpful feature of the book to be its occasional snippet of interesting findings, this book will not make my ‘must read list’ as an academic advisor.
Mascovici, S. (1976). Social influence and social change. New York: Academic Press.
Group Consensus and Minority Influence: Implications for Innovation. (2001). Book by DeDreu, Carsten and De Vries, Nanne. Review by Raina P. Martinez. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishers. 350 pp. Price: $43.95. ISBN# 0-631-21233-7.