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Abstract

Investigated how either perceived competency or self-interest-and Zeitgeist affect minority influence, or: how Moscovici's theory does apply to actual social minorities. The self-interest notion predicts that ‘single’ minorities (deviating only in terms of beliefs) are more influential than ‘double’ minorities (deviating also in category membership) while the competency notion predicts the reverse. Further, either minority is expected to be influential only when the Zeitgeist is in favour of the minority position. In a 2 (pro/anti Zeitgeist) × 3 (single/double minority/control) factorial design, 120 conservative male American undergraduates discussed in groups of six-including two either male (single minority) or female (double minority) consistently liberal con federates-one of two issues: abortion (pro-) or death penalty (anti- Zeitgeist). The results support the self-interest notion: double minorities are perceived as having a stronger self-interest and exerted less influence than single minorities. The Zeitgeist hypothesis is confirmed, too. The underlying attributional processes and the ecological validity of previous studies are discussed.