Working Papers

Minority Influence Theory


The study of minority influence began as reaction to the portrayal of influence as the province of status and numbers and from a realization that minorities need not just be passive recipients of influence but can actively persuade. From these beginnings, a considerable body of research, including ours, has investigated how minority views prevail. . In the decades that followed, we concentrated, not so much on persuasion or attitude change but, rather, on the value of minority views for the stimulation of divergent thinking. Dissent, as has been repeatedly documented, “opens” the mind. People search for information, consider more options and, on balance, make better decisions and are more creative. Dissenters, rather than rogues or obstacles, provide value: They liberate people to say what they believe and they stimulate divergent and creative thought even when they are wrong. The implications for group decision making, whether in juries or companies, have been considerable and there is increasing interest in research and in practice for the value of authentic dissent in teams and in creating “cultures” of innovation.