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Eye Witness Testimony

Misleading Information:
Leading Questions

Minority influence and social change

When considering the role of minorities in social change, it appears as if there are a number of steps which that minority may take in order to bring about change.

1. Drawing attention - initially, the minority group need to draw attention to the situation in order to raise awareness,

2. Consistency -  as already seen the minority group need to be consistent in their opinion in order to appear credible

3. Deeper processing - once they have drawn attention to the viewpoint, we know that the majority starts to process that opinion on a deeper level

4. The augmentation principal - this is where the minority appear to show their commitment by performing actions which are considered to be risky or dangerous. This once again makes people consider what they’re saying, as being more credible.

5. The snowball effect -  it is known that minorities slowly bring about change by getting a few people on board with the message and a few more and a few more until eventually, it becomes like a snowball. At this point, the minority group can become the majority

6. Social cryptoamnesia - many people can remember that things weren’t always that way, but they can’t remember exactly when that change came about. 


1. Research into minority groups and social change comes from Bashir et al (2013). They found that people often resist social change because they did not want to be associated with minority groups who they considered to be extreme in someway. For example, some environmental groups are seen as tree huggers, and this is seen as unattractive to the majority whom the minority want to change.

2. One limitation of minority influence is that sometimes it takes a long time to actually work. It has taken decades for attitudes to smoking and drink driving to change. Nemeth (1986) suggested that the effects of minority influence are likely to be in direct and delayed. 


Misleading Information: Post Event Discussion

Conformity Research and Social Change

Conformity is a powerful method of social influence as demonstrated by Asch's research. Many campaigners have used lessons from conformity research to bring about social change.

Normative social influence has been used by health campaigners and environmental campaigners to get people to change their behaviors. Giving the message that most people, behave in a particular way makes individuals feel that they should behave in a similar way to.

It is even used by streaming companies, such as Netflix to influence individuals. For example, they they always display what films are 'popular' amongst the population at that time. They sometimes send emails to let you know what people in your area might be watching! 

Informational, social influence is also used as a method to get people to confirm. For example, educating people on the harm of smoking can encourage individuals to stop.


1. Research support for normative influence comes from the research by Nolan et al (2008). Nolan asked people in a community in San Diego, California to hang a message on their front doors saying that they were trying to reduce their energy usage. There was also a control group where residents were asked to hang a message on the door, but it was just to save energy with no reference to to anybody else’s behavior. Nolan found that the campaign when people were being informed that most residents were trying to save energy was more effective and in this condition energy use went down..


Obedience research and Social Change

Milgram's research shows the importance of obedience in social influence. Zimbardo has suggested that this can be used in order to bring about social change by using a process of gradual commitment. Getting an individual to obey a small instruction, makes it more difficult for them to resist a bigger one. This means that they might eventually drift into obedience.

Another way that obedience is used to bring about social change is by changing laws and then people have to obey! For example, smoking laws have changed over the last few decades from initially restricting where people can smoke, to banning smoking in the workplace and then more recently to banning smoking in most public places. This is yet another effective way to bring about change.



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