Here are the studies:
Children As Young As Preschoolers Tend To Follow Majority Opinion
In this study, three- and four-year-old children watched as a small group of people (either three or four members) named a novel object. The majority of group members would use the same name for the object; the lone dissenter would pick a different name. The children were then asked what they thought the object was called.
The results revealed that majority rules when it comes to influencing the opinion of preschoolers.
Children as young as age three and four are able to recognize and trust a consensus. In addition, young children are good at remembering who was and was not a part of the majority group.
I'd love to know more about how this was conducted. Were the people all careful to keep their expressions neutral and that sort of thing? Were they all dressed the same, etc? And who says the consensus is correct and should be trusted? It all shows a window into indoctrination, which I was talking about the other day. If enough people around a child are praying and talking to invisible gods in the sky, it seems natural for a child to easily accept that as trustworthy. And when something gets into your basic foundational belief system when you're so young and impressionable, it is really stuck in there.
People Often Think An Opinion Heard Repeatedly From The Same Person Is Actually A Popular Opinion
The experiments included dividing students into three groups, (three person control group, single opinion group and repeated opinions group).
Participants in the three person control group read three opinion statements each made by a different group member. The participants in the repeated opinion group read the same three statements but they were all attributed to one group member. Those in the single opinion control group read one opinion statement from one group member.
The studies found that an opinion is more likely to be assumed to be the majority opinion when multiple group members express their opinion. However, the study also showed that hearing one person express the same opinion multiple times had nearly the same effect on listener's perception of the opinion being popular as hearing multiple people state his/her opinion.
This is interesting too. So, if you are around the same people expressing the same opinions, you're going to think most people think that way? And if you combine that with the study above, would you then be inclined to accept it as the "right" consensus? Maybe. I don't know. But it's food for thought.
Social Change Relies More On The Easily Influenced Than The Highly Influential
Study finds that it is the presence of large numbers of "easily influenced" people who bring about major shifts by influencing other easy-to-influence people.
"Under most conditions that we consider, we find that large cascades of influence are driven not by influentials, but by a critical mass of easily influenced individuals."
"Anytime some notable social change is recognized, whether it be a grassroots cultural fad, a successful marketing campaign, or a dramatic drop in crime rates, it is tempting to trace the phenomenon to the individuals who "started it," and conclude that their actions or behavior "caused" the events that subsequently took place," the authors write.
However, they explain: "...under most of these conditions influentials are less important than is generally supposed, either as initiators of large cascades, or as early adopters."
Ahh, now combine this with the first two and what have you got? A recipe for disaster. People are sheeple, easily influenced, easily led and manipulated with lies, half truths and twisted facts. Repeated often enough by the majority of the people you pay attention to, and you are a mindless puppet drone, parroting the words and thoughts of others.
If you look at how this plays out with politics and religion, you see that people are easily influenced and indoctrinated to follow blindly in the footsteps of the authorities who they have been subjected to from early childhood onward.