Hesitation in communication: Does minority status delay responses?

V Yeung
L. W
Yee-Man Ivy LAU, Singapore Management University
C. Y. Chiu


Past studies indicated that people in a minority (vs. majority) position are slower to express their public/political opinion, and the larger the difference between the size of the two positions, the slower the response. Bassili termed this the minority-slowness effect (MSE). In the current study, two experiments were conducted to demonstrate that MSE extends to people's understanding of utterances and explored the cognitive basis for this. Participants were asked to judge if an utterance is a ‘direct’ or an ‘indirect’ expression. The results show that participants in the minority (vs. majority) took longer to respond, and the larger the difference between the size of majority and minority, the longer the response latency (Study 1a). Furthermore, participants were aware of their own minority position (Study 1b). In Study 2, when participants were deprived of cognitive resources, MSE disappeared, presumably because participants lack the cognitive resources required to conform to utterance interpretation as favoured by the majority