Minority influence and social categorization

Chiara Volpato, Anne Maass, Angelica Mucchi‐Faina, Elisa Vitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, a theoretical distinction is proposed between representative outgroup minorities (representative of a minority category in the society, e.g. gays) and dissident outgroup minorities (defined as a minority subgroup within a larger outgroup category). Two studies are reported comparing the social influence of dissident outgroup minorities with that of ingroup minorities (belonging to the subject's own social category). It was predicted that a position advocated by a dissident outgroup minority would be more readily accepted than that of an ingroup minority, but that the ingroup minority would be more likely to elicit the generation of new, alternative solutions. A first experiment in which subjects were either exposed to an ingroup minority, an outgroup minority, or no influence source confirmed these predictions. In a second experiment, subjects were either exposed to a majority or to a minority source either belonging to the subject's own social category or to the outgroup. The results indicate that the position of an ingroup majority was readily accepted whereas the otherwise identical message of an outgroup majority was rejected; neither ingroup nor outgroup majority stimulated the development of alternative proposals. Again, in line with Nemeth' (1986a) theory, the position of an ingroup minority was rejected but stimulated the generation of new, alternative proposals. The differential role of social category membership in minority and majority influence and the applicability of Nemeth' (1986a) theory to the attitude change area are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-132
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Minority influence and social categorization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this