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BOB HIRSHON (host):
When one voice sounds like many. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Hearing one person repeat the same opinion is almost as influential as hearing it from several different people – at least when it comes to judging the opinion’s popularity. This according to a series of experiments by Virginia Tech marketing professor Kim Weaver and her colleagues. She says the effect was strongest in people who had no prior knowledge of the group’s preferences. Yet they weren’t simply misremembering who said what.
KIM WEAVER (Virginia Polytechnic Institute):
Our studies suggested that opinion repetition, in those cases, increases the familiarity of the opinion. And that people use that feeling of familiarity to make inferences about how many group members support the opinion.
The findings suggest that decision-makers should rely on systematic surveys, rather than general impressions, to gauge a group’s opinion. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.