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Want to be more persuasive in meetings?

Repeat yourself. New research reveals even if only one member of a group repeats their opinion, it is more likely to be seen by others as representative of the whole group.

A study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined exactly this situation to test how people judge the distribution of opinion.

The study, carried out by Kimberlee Weaver and colleagues, found we can tell that three different people expressing the same opinion better represents the group than one person expressing the same opinion three times – but not by much.

In fact, if one person in a group repeats the same opinion three times, it has 90% of the effect of three different people in that group expressing the same opinion. When you think about it, that is strange. Indeed, I'm not sure I'd even believe it if I hadn't already read many other psychology studies that point to the illogical and unreasonable ways our minds sometimes work.

Where does this effect come from? The authors argue it comes down to memory. Because repetition increases the accessibility of an opinion, we assume it has a high prevalence. In everyday life we are likely to hear the same opinion many times in different places. We then put all these together to judge the general mood of a group. When one person repeats their opinion, we simply over apply the rule.

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