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Three experiments investigated the effect of consensus information on majority and minority influence. Experiment 1 examined the effect of consensus expressed by descriptive adjectives (large vs. small) on social influence. A large source resulted in more influence than a small source, irrespective of source status (majority vs. minority). Experiment 2 showed that large sources affected attitudes heuristically, whereas only a small minority instigated systematic processing of the message. Experiment 3 manipulated the type of consensus information, either in terms of descriptive adjectives (large, small) or percentages (82%, 18%, 52%, 48%). When consensus was expressed in terms of descriptive adjectives, the findings of Experiments 1 and 2 were replicated (large sources were more influential than small sources), but when consensus was expressed in terms of percentages, the majority was more influential than the minority, irrespective of group consensus.

Original publication




Journal article


Pers Soc Psychol Bull

Publication Date





1163 - 1174


Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Consensus, Female, Greece, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Minority Groups, Persuasive Communication, Psycholinguistics, Public Opinion, Social Behavior, Social Perception, Thinking, United Kingdom