Personal judgments swayed by group opinion for 3 days: study
June 23, 2014
We all want to feel like free thinkers, but there's nothing like social pressure to sway opinion. New research suggests that people do change their own personal judgments so that they fall in line with the group norm, but the change only seems to last about 3 days.
“Just like working memory can hold about seven items and a drug can be effective for certain amount of time, social influence seems to have a limited time window for effectiveness,” said psychologist and study author Rongjun Yu of South China Normal University. The research is published in the journal Psychological Science
That personal judgments are swayed by others' opinions is well known, but it's unclear whether it leads to a genuine change in personal opinion. If so, it might be expected to persist even when social influence is removed. Yu and colleagues recruited Chinese college students to participate in a study supposedly exploring how “people perceive facial attractiveness. The students looked at 280 photographs of young Chinese women and were asked to rate the attractiveness of each face on an eight-point scale.
After rating a face, they saw the purported average of 200 other students' ratings for that face. Importantly, the group average matched the participant's rating only one fourth of the time. The rest, the group average fell one, two or three points above or below the participant's rating.
The students were brought back to the lab to rate the faces again after either one, three, or seven days, or after three months. The data indicated that the group norm seemed to sway participant's own judgments when they re-rated the photos up to three days, but no longer.
According to the researchers, three days is long enough to suggest that group norms had a genuine, albeit brief, impact on opinions. But the researchers are unsure why the effect lasts for three days. They plan to study whether there might be a neurological reason, and whether the effect can be manipulated to last for shorter or longer durations.
Source : http://www.world-science.net/othernews/140526_group.htm
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