Referent informational influence and group polarization

Turner, John C.; Wetherell, Margaret S. and Hogg, Michael A. (1989). Referent informational influence and group polarization. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28(2) pp. 135–147.




Tested the referent informational influence analysis of group polarization. Referent informational influence theory explains group polarization as conformity, through self-categorization, to a local in-group norm that is polarized as a result of the in-group being located toward an extreme of the salient comparative context or social frame of reference. The experiment adopted a modified form of the risky shift paradigm, in which 96 16- and 17-yr-olds were identified as risky or cautious individuals or groups for the purpose of 4-person group discussions of risky and cautious choice dilemmas. While risky groups shifted toward risk and cautious groups toward caution, risky and cautious individuals showed no shift or actually shifted in the opposite direction from their label. Results are interpreted as providing evidence favoring referent informational influence theory over the persuasive arguments and social comparison/cultural values theories.

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