People stick to strong views more in case of opposition

August 3rd, 2010 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 3 (IANS) People holding strong views tend to stick to them, more so if the majority disagreed with them.
It was earlier thought that in the face of opposition, a person would be encouraged to rethink his/her beliefs.

But a new study suggests people often react just the opposite: they grow more confident in some beliefs when they find out later that a majority of people disagree with them.

“It may be that you feel proud because you were able to disprove, in your own mind, an opinion that most people have accepted,” said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University (OSU).

“You actually become doubly sure you were right,” Petty added, according to an OSU statement.

Their results appear online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Petty conducted the study with Pablo Briñol, former postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State, and Javier Horcago, both at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain.

Previous research has shown that majority opinion has the greatest influence on people when they consider issues that aren’t that important to them or issues they don’t want to spend much effort thinking about.

“If a decision isn’t important, it often seems easiest to just go along with what everybody else is thinking,” Petty said.

Minority opinion does have influence some times, but mostly on issues which people are motivated to consider carefully.

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