Social Influence

Chapter 6:
Social Influence
Social Psychology by
Tom Gilovich, Dacher
Keltner, and Richard
What is Social Influence?
Conformity - changing one’s behavior in response
to real or imagined pressure from others
Compliance - responding favorably to an explicit
request by another person
Obedience - social influence in which the less
powerful person in an unequal power
relationship submits to the demands of the
more powerful person
Obedience- change
behavior in response
to direct orders from
authority (most direct
Milgram’s Obedience
Participants told to deliver
increasing levels of shock
to a “learner” each time he
made an error on a simple
learning task
Why did so many people
obey? What was wrong with
Why did so many obey?
experimenter said he was responsible (diffusion)
commands were gradual in nature
participants had little time for reflection
experimenter was perceived as an authority figure
People believed he had the power to influence/control their
Decreasing Obedience
Sources of Authority (Power)
Ability to punish or remove positive consequences.
Ability to provide positive or remove negative consequences
Person has expertise (knowledge) not widely available
Legitimate Believe person has influence because of role.
People identify with or want to be like authority figure
Resisting Obedience
Ways to resist obedience
take responsibility for any harm produced
realize total submission is inappropriate
question authority’s motives
increase awareness of the power of the
Obedience is most direct form of social influence
Persons readily obey commands, even those from a
relatively powerless source of authority
Many factors influence obedience
diffusion of responsibility
perceived authority
gradual escalation of commands
rapid pace of situation
Several strategies can be used to reduce obedience
Compliance- getting people to say yes to a
Principles underlying compliance
– friendship/liking- “she seems genuine and nice”
– commitment/consistency- “I’m committed to the
– scarcity- “only one left”
– reciprocity- “she helped me so I should return favor”
– consenus - “everyone else is doing it”
– authority- “he seems legitimate”
Compliance Techniques
Tactics based on liking
ingratiation- enhance self or flatter target
personal appeals - appeal to feelings of loyalty,
Tactics based on commitment/consistency
foot-in-the-door- small request followed by larger
lowballing- changing the deal midstream
Compliance Techniques 2
Tactics based on reciprocity
door-in-the-face- large request followed by smaller
“that’s not all”- sweeten the deal midstream
Tactics based on scarcity
playing hard to get- suggesting item is scarce
deadline technique- limited time to buy
Compliance Techniques 3
Rational Persuasion
Elaboration-Likelihood Model
Tactics based on mood
Negative mood
negative state relief hypothesis - The idea that people engage in
certain actions, such as agreeing to a request, in order to relieve
negative feelings and to feel better about themselves
good mood- prime happy thoughts (AIM model)
Inspirational appeals
There are many different tactics people use to
gain compliance.
These compliance tactics are based on wellknown psychological principles.
These techniques should be used ethically and
Conformity- change attitudes and behavior in
order to adhere to social norms
 Types of Norms- rules for behavior
explicit (written)
implicit (unwritten)
descriptive- what most people do
injunctive- what should be done
1. Automatic Mimicry and
the Chameleon Effect
chameleon effect - the
nonconscious mimicry of
the expressions,
mannerisms, movements,
and other behaviors of
those with whom one is
2. Informational Social
Influence and Sherif’s
Conformity Experiment
Informational social influence
- the influence of other people
that results from taking their
comments or actions as a
source of information as to
what is correct or proper
3. Normative Social Influence
and Asch’s Conformity
Normative social influence the influence of other people that
comes from the desire to avoid
their disapproval, harsh
judgments, and other social
4. Factors Affecting
Conformity Pressures
a. Group Size
b. Group Unanimity
c. Expertise and Status
d. Culture
e. Gender
f. Difficulty of the Task
g. Anonymity
Resisting Conforming
Ways to resist conformity
Desire for individuality
more conformity occurs in collectivistic cultures,
regardless of group size
Desire to exert control over one’s life
as the need for personal control increases,
conformity decreases
Most people behave in accordance with social norms
most of the time (conformity)
Many factors determine to what extent conformity
Group size
Resistance to conformity comes from:
Strong need for individuality (individuation)
Strong need for control
Resisting Social Influence
Reactance theory - reasserting perogatives in response to
the unpleasant state of arousal experienced by people
when they believe their freedoms are threatened
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