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Winning When You're in the Minority


Pub Date: April 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-55229-9
Publisher: St. Martin's

A social psychologist explains how the few can persuade the many. 

Crano (Psychology/Claremont Graduate Univ.; co-editor: The Psychology of Attitudes and Attitude Change, 2010, etc.) offers a series of rules—e.g., “Be Persistent. Don’t Retreat and Don’t Compromise”; Be Flexible. Adjust Your Message to Circumstances”—that must be followed if minorities are to be successful in persuading majorities to change. The author succeeds in explaining the concepts and studies in a manner accessible even to readers with no prior knowledge of social psychology, and he cites abundant examples of the success of his proposed rules from history and politics. Unfortunately, the structure of the book sometimes detracts from what could be a compelling topic. The first third of the book is devoted to explaining basic group dynamics and defining “majority” and “minority.” This primer is useful but bloated, as is the introduction, which contains at least 10 iterations of one statement—“This book will show you how to influence majorities”—in 30 pages. The repetition of this assertion, combined with the introductory nature of the material, gives the reader the unfortunate impression of being subjected to a sales pitch and a lecture at the same time. The rules themselves are buried in the text, and many of them are wordy: “Do not expect direct focal influence, but be attuned to indirect influence” makes for a rather cumbersome rallying cry. Fortunately, Crano reviews the rules in the final chapter.

The core rules governing minority success are overshadowed by the supporting evidence in this manual for social change.