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Abstract

Two experiments investigated the role of message originality vs. conventionality in social influence. It was hypothesized that subjects would generate more original proposals when confronted with a minority advocating an original viewpoint than when confronted with a conventional minority proposal or with an original majority proposal. In the first experiment, subjects exposed to an original minority paired with a conventional majority produced a wider range and more original proposals than those exposed either to a conventional minority paired with a conventional majority or to a majority source only. The second experiment further demonstrated that the original message induced creative processing only when attributed to a minority source but not when attributed to a majority source. It also showed that the original minority elicited creative processing mainly when paired with a conventional majority, but not when paired with a majority advocating an equally original position. Findings are interpreted in the frame of Nemeth's (1986) minority influence theory.