The Majority's Influence Depends upon Their Perceived Independence*

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Abstract

A dissenting juror faces considerable social pressure from the majority to accept their position. This article postulated that whether the dissenter conforms or not should be dependent, in part, on attributions made about the cause of the majority's behavior. Specifically, it was hypothesized that to the extent the majority jurors are perceived to be independent of one another, their credibility should be high and the dissenter will likely adopt their position. On the other hand, agreement among homogeneous jurors may be attributed to mutual influence or similar personalities and, therefore, discounted as a reliable source of information about the case. Two studies investigated the relationship between both attributions of independence and social influence, and the homogeneity of the jurors attempting influence. Overall, findings from the studies indicate that the manner in which jurors are initially categorized into social groups affects their perceived independence and persuasive impact.

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