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Chapter 8 Social Influence

  1. Chapter 8 Social Influence
  2. What is Social Influence? • Social influence can be described as an individual’s effort to change the behaviour or attitude of another individual. • Avermaet (2004, p. 404) defined social influence as 'a change in the judgements, opinions and attitudes of an individual as a result of being exposed to the views of others'. • Social influence has also been defined by Barrett (2017, p. 190) as 'an internal or external change in a person caused by the real or imagined pressure from others'. • Baron and Byrne (1995, p. 350) define social influence as 'efforts on the part of one person to alter the behaviour or attitudes of one or more object'.
  3. Principles of Interpersonal Influence Six main principles of interpersonal influence have been opposed by Cialdini (Barrette, 2017), these are discussed as follows: 1.Scarcity: This principle denotes that when options and items are not easily found or are available in a limited manner, such options and items are valued by the individuals. In this context, the compliance with actions and behaviours that are related to obtaining such an item or going with an option will increase. For example, in advertisements one may come across ‘limited’ gold coins that are distributed along with a product on first come, first serve basis, or an advertisement may indicate that only 10 limited edition products are available. This will lead to behaviour directed towards getting these products. 2.Liking/friendship: This principle denotes that adherence to requests from individuals who are evaluated positively/high. Thus requests that are made by friends and significant others in our lives whom we perceive positively or like are more likely to be adhered to by us. This again is applied in advertisements where popular actors and sportsperson are involved in promoting certain products to influence the behaviours of the consumers.
  4. Principles of Interpersonal Influence Cont… 3. Commitment/consistence: This is yet another principle and has been described as commitment in a certain direction and it is based on behaviour that is increasingly consistent with their behaviours in the past. A person who has been displaying pro-environment behaviour is more likely to be convinced to adopt new techniques of garbage disposal. 4. Reciprocity: This principle denotes that the likelihood of compliance is high when the request is from an individual who behaved in a favourable manner in the past. Thus, if a person who has helped you in the past asks you to behave buy certain insurance policy, you are more likely to comply. 5. Social validation: When certain behaviours are seen as enacted by others as well, the likelihood that an individual will engage in such behaviour is high. This is related to conformity and an example of this principle would be that a person may engage in smoking or alcohol consumption because his/her friends are also displaying such behaviour.
  5. Social Impact Theory • Social impact theory was developed by Latané focuses on the strength of an influence, that can be either positive or negative) that others can have on an individual. • Social impact theory can be termed as a general theory of social influence that can be utilised to understand conformity and obedience (Crisp & Turner, 2010). • According to Latané, the strength of the influences will depend on the characteristics of the observer or source of the influence, their number and immediacy (Sears, Peplau & Taylor, 1991). • The theory also helps us determine behaviours and actions of people in presence of others. • Latané further spoke about how in certain cases the presence of others results in social facilitation and sometime in social loafing (Sears, Peplau & Taylor, 1991). • This is also explained by the social impact theory. In social facilitation, the individual is the only target of influence by others and, thus, the impact increases. Whereas in social loafing, several individuals work on a single task and each of these individuals is a target of influence by others.
  6. Conformity • Conformity can be described as pressures to go along with the crowd and to behave in the same manner as other persons in one’s group or society (Baron & Byrne, 2006). • It can also be described as conforming to the societal expectations about how one should behave in varied situations. • Experiment carried out by Solomon Asch (1951)
  7. Influence on Conformity Commitment to the group Group size Group unanimity The desire for individuation
  8. Normative Social Influence • Normative social influence can be defined as 'the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them; this type of conformity results in public compliance with the group’s beliefs and behaviours but not necessarily in private acceptance of those beliefs and behaviours' (Aranson, 2014, p. 246). • Social norms play an important role here (later in this chapter, social norms will be discussed in detail) as individuals may display certain behaviour just to conform with the social norms, whether implicit or explicit. • In certain cases, we choose to confirm also because we want to be liked by the group members and want be accepted by them. Thus, many a times, we agree with our parents, teachers and significant people in our lives as we want to be accepted and liked by them. This can be termed as normative social influences as we change our behaviours so as to fulfil other’s expectations. It can also be described as a predisposition to be influenced by others with an objective to get some reward from them or to avoid punishment.
  9. Informational Social Influence • Informational social influence can be defined as 'the influence of other people that leads us to conform because we see them as a source of information to guide our behaviour; we conform because we believe that others’ interpretation of an ambiguous situations more correct than ours and will help us choose than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of action' (Aranson, 2014, p. 240). • Sometimes we confirm as we measure our responses and behaviour with that of others, as that is the reality for us in social context (social reality). This is also called as informational social influence. It can be described as a predisposition to accept facts obtained from others as confirmation about reality. • Autokinetic effect experiment carried out by Muzafer Sherif in 1936
  10. Minority Influence • Minority influence can be defined as 'the case where a minority of group members influences the behaviour or beliefs of the majority' (Aronsosn et al., 2014, p. 258). In minority influence, one of the main aspects is consistency, that is, the same view should be expressed by the minority members over a period of time. Further, members of minority also need to agree with each other as otherwise their voices will not be heard and, thus, the opinions of the minority will be dismissed. • A distinction can be made between diachronic consistency and synchronic consistency. A diachronic consistency denotes consistency that is over a period of time, whereas a synchronic consistency denotes a consistency that exists between the members, where each one is supported by the others. • Consistency can play an important role in minority influence in following ways: 1. Consistency will help in making the individual with certain opinion noticeable to the majority, and that in turn may lead to the members of majority rethink with regard to the position adopted by them. 2. Consistency also creates an impression about how convinced the minority is with regard their opinion. It also highlights their commitments towards their viewpoint. 3. Consistency also interferes with well-established norms and paves the way for conflict and doubt, and, thus, their point of view will get notice and will be taken seriously by the majority. 4. Besides consistency, confidence is also important. A minority that is confident and dedicated towards their opinion and stand display that they have a strong point to make.
  11. Compliance • An individual seeking compliance attempts to change the actions and behaviours of one or more individuals by means of direct requests or other strategies. The individual uses any strategy or means to influence other individuals to do things or behave in his/her favour. • There are six bases of power that could be used in order to influence individuals. 1. Reward 2. Coercion 3. Expertise 4. Information 5. Referent power 6. Legitimate authority • Techniques of compliance 1. Ingratiation 2. Foot-in-the-door technique 3. Door-in-the-face technique 4. That’s not all (TNA) technique
  12. Obedience • In obedience, an individual will give command or direct others to behave in a particular manner or change their actions. Such persons have some power vested in them as a result of their status or position in the group or society. • There are various forms of obedience; there can be obedience to law, social norms, government and religious institutions. • Experiment carried out by Milgram • Obedience will also depend on the personality of the person obeying. One of the characteristics in this regard is the authoritarian submission, which deals with a predisposition to submit to an authoritative figure. Locus of control is yet another characteristic. Individuals with external locus of control are more prone to be obedient than individuals with internal locus of control. • Obedience may also depend to a greater extent on the upbringing of the person and social norms prevalent in the society. Like in Indian society, we are taught from a very young age to be obedient. This is one of the most important traits seen in an individual. One is expected to be obedient child, obedient wife and so on. • Many a times individuals obey to behave in manners that might even negatively affect others, as they feel that they are not the one’s doing it and are doing it under someone else’s order and, thus, they are not responsible for their actions. Also, in certain cases, they might find it difficult to resist as they themselves might face negative consequences. Further, such individuals may also comply because initial actions may be milder and they gradually become harmful, which the participants do not realise.