September 10, 2011

A 10% Minority Can Sway the Majority

Hans Villarica, The Atlantic


AP Photo

How do you topple a tyrant or popularize a foreign cuisine? According to a recent study in the journal Physical Review E, mobilizing an unyielding minority of 10 percent may be enough.

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Network Science and Technology Center created and analyzed various models of networks where a minority strived to overtake the majority's opinion. They found that three conditions are key: a majority that is flexible with their views, a minority that is intractable, and a critical threshold wherein about a tenth of the population advocate the minority opinion. They also saw that the time it takes to reach social consensus drops dramatically as the minority grows past this tipping point, a...

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TAGGED: Public Opinion, Social Science, Social Psychology, Politics

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