Are people really conformist-biased? An empirical test and a new mathematical model

Eriksson, K and Coultas, J C (2009) Are people really conformist-biased? An empirical test and a new mathematical model. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 7 (1). pp. 5-21. ISSN 1789-2082

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Abstract

According to an influential theory in cultural evolution, within-group similarity of culture is explained by a human 'conformist-bias', which is a hypothesized evolved predisposition to preferentially follow a member of the majority when acquiring ideas and behaviours. However, this notion has little support from social psychological research. In fact, a major theory in social psychology (LATANÉ and WOLF, 1981) argues for what is in effect a ‘nonconformist-bias’: by analogy to standard psychophysics they predict minority sources of influence to have relatively greater impact than majority sources. Here we present a new mathematical model and an experiment on social influence, both specifically designed to test these competing predictions. The results are in line with nonconformism. Finally, we discuss within-group similarity and suggest that it is not a general phenomenon but must be studied trait by trait.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Cultural evolution, conformist bias, social impact theory, minority influence
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Julie Coultas
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2013 11:30
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 10:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/44008

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