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How to Disagree with the Group: Examples of Idiosyncrasy Credits

How to Disagree with the Group: Examples of Idiosyncrasy Credits
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  • 0:06 Idiosyncrasy Credits
  • 1:08 Earning Idiosyncrasy Credits
  • 3:24 Do Idiosyncrasy…
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ron Fritz
In this lesson, you will learn about idiosyncrasy credit and the power it gives someone to disagree with the group. You will also learn how idiosyncrasy credit provides minority group members influence over majority decisions.

Idiosyncrasy Credits

What makes a soldier follow his or her leader into battle? It goes completely against Darwin's theories because it's contrary to our survival instincts. Logic tells the soldier not to do it, yet he or she willingly follows the directions of the leader. Would the soldier act the same way for a complete stranger? It's highly unlikely. The soldier follows his or her leader's direction because the leader has built up idiosyncrasy credits.

Idiosyncrasy credits are the goodwill an individual banks over time by conforming to group norms that allow the person to occasionally deviate from the same group norms without fear of reprisal. Idiosyncrasy credits, or ICs, are often used in reference to leaders; however, the concept can refer to anyone who can successfully go against his or her group norms. Idiosyncrasy credits allow a minority of one to influence the rest of the majority. Edwin Hollander made idiosyncrasy credit theory popular in 1958.

How Are Idiosyncrasy Credits Earned?

Idiosyncrasy credits are earned through either conformity or competence. Before someone can deviate from a group, he or she must either conform to the group's norms or demonstrate competence in the direction they wish to take the group.

If a stranger joins your group and announces, 'Things need to be done differently,' how likely are you to listen to him? You'll probably think he's some kind of nut and not listen to him at all. However, if a long-standing and respected member of the group announces, 'Things need to be done differently,' you're likely to at least listen and consider the person's suggestions. Conformity is one way to earn idiosyncrasy credits.

When an individual is a recognized authority on a subject, either through actions or reputation, the group is more likely to listen to that person's suggestions. The person's expertise or competence earns him ICs with the group.

If a stranger with a Ph.D. or extensive experience joins your group and announces, 'Things need to be done differently,' you will most likely give this person more credibility than someone with no known education or experience. Competence is another way to earn idiosyncrasy credits.

ICs are like money in the bank; the balance goes up and down depending on how many credits are earned and how many are spent. Demonstrating conformity or competence builds up a credit balance that continues to grow as long as your conformity or competence continues. Disagreeing with the group has a price tag, and the cost is a given number of the person's credits. The number of credits depends largely on the importance and outcome of the deviation.

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