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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007 Jan;33(1):43-56.

Systematic and heuristic processing of majority and minority-endorsed messages: the effects of varying outcome relevance and levels of orientation on attitude and message processing.

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  • 1Aston University.


Two experiments investigated the conditions under which majority and minority sources instigate systematic processing of their messages. Both experiments crossed source status (majority vs. minority) with message quality (strong vs. weak arguments). In each experiment, message elaboration was manipulated by varying either motivational (outcome relevance, Experiment 1) or cognitive (orientating tasks, Experiment 2) factors. The results showed that when either motivational or cognitive factors encouraged low message elaboration, there was heuristic acceptance of the majority position without detailed message processing. When the level of message elaboration was intermediate, there was message processing only for the minority source. Finally, when message elaboration was high, there was message processing for both source conditions. These results show that majority and minority influence is sensitive to motivational and cognitive factors that constrain or enhance message elaboration and that both sources can lead to systematic processing under specific circumstances.

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