This chapter examines the contexts in which people will process more deeply, and therefore be more influenced by, a position that is supported by either a numerical majority or minority. The chapter reviews the major theories of majority and minority influence with reference to which source condition is associated with most message processing (and where relevant, the contexts under which this occurs) and experimental research examining these predictions. The chapter then presents a new theoretical model (the source-context-elaboration model, SCEM) that aims to integrate the disparate research findings. The model specifies the processes underlying majority and minority influence, the contexts under which these processes occur and the consequences for attitudes changed by majority and minority influence. The chapter then describes a series of experiments that address each of the aspects of the theoretical model. Finally, a range of research-related issues are discussed and future issues for the research area as a whole are considered.
- message processing