Distinguishing Between Silent and Vocal Minorities: Not All Deviants Feel Marginal

  • Morrison K
  • Miller D
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Abstract

People's opinions can deviate from that of the average group member in two ways. Descriptive deviants diverge from the average group attitude in a direction consistent with the desirable group attitude; prescriptive deviants diverge from the average group attitude in a direction inconsistent with the desirable group attitude. Three studies tested the hypothesis that descriptive deviants are more willing to express their opinions than either nondeviants or prescriptive deviants. Study 1 found that college students reported more comfort in expressing descriptive deviant opinions because descriptive deviance induced feelings of superior conformity (i.e., being "different but good"). Study 2 found that descriptive deviants reported more pride after expressing their opinions, were rated as more proud by an observer, and were more willing to publicize their opinions. Study 3 showed that political bumper stickers with descriptive deviant messages were displayed disproportionately more frequently than were those with prescriptive deviant messages.

Author-supplied keywords

  • deviance
  • minorities
  • social norms

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Authors

  • Kimberly Rios Morrison

  • Dale T. Miller

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