Chapter 6 social influence
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Chapter 6: Social Influence. Social Psychology by T om Gilovich, Dacher Keltner, and Richard Nisbett . What is Social Influence? . Conformity - changing one’s behavior in response to real or imagined pressure from others

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Chapter 6 social influence

Chapter 6: Social Influence

Social Psychology by Tom Gilovich, Dacher Keltner, and Richard Nisbett

What is social influence
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 form)

  • Milgram’s Obedience Study

    • 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 them?

Why did so many obey
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 behavior

Sources of authority power



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


Believe person has influence because of role.


People identify with or want to be like authority figure


Resisting obedience
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 situation


  • 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 request

  • Principles underlying compliance

    • friendship/liking- “she seems genuine and nice”

    • commitment/consistency- “I’m committed to the cause”

    • 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
Compliance Techniques

  • Tactics based on liking

    • ingratiation- enhance self or flatter target

    • personal appeals - appeal to feelings of loyalty, friendship

  • Tactics based on commitment/consistency

    • foot-in-the-door- small request followed by larger one

    • lowballing- changing the deal midstream

Compliance techniques 2
Compliance Techniques 2

  • Tactics based on reciprocity

    • door-in-the-face- large request followed by smaller one

    • “that’s not all”- sweeten the deal midstream

  • Tactics based on scarcity

    • playing hard to get- suggesting item is scarce (valuable)

    • deadline technique- limited time to buy

Compliance techniques 3
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 well-known psychological principles.

  • These techniques should be used ethically and responsibly.


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 interacting


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 Experiment

Normative social influence - the influence of other people that comes from the desire to avoid their disapproval, harsh judgments, and other social sanctions


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
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 occurs

    • Cohesiveness

    • Group size

    • Norms

  • Resistance to conformity comes from:

    • Strong need for individuality (individuation)

    • Strong need for control

Resisting social influence
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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