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Power and Social Influence. By: Paul renouf and geoff toal. What is power and social influence?. Power – capacity or ability to change the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors of others. Social Influence – attempts to affect or change other people. Conformity.

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Power and Social Influence

By: Paul renouf and geofftoal

What is power and social influence?

Power – capacity or ability to change the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors of others.

Social Influence – attempts to affect or change other people


Asch’s (1995) conformity studies show that even when group pressure is just IMPLIED, people make worse judgments.

If the majority are saying it, they must be right!

Impact on teams with ongoing relationships is even stronger.


  • Milgrams (1974) obedience studies show that people are obedient to authority figures even if the behaviors are inappropriate.

  • Factors of obedience

    • Legitimacy of authority figure

    • Authority figure monitoring performance

    • Whenever possible, they lied to the authority figure.

    • Closer to the victim, the less obedient.

    • If others disobeyed, more people likely to follow.

  • Even without rewards, participants obey authority.

The bases of power

  • Personal or Soft Power

    • Expert

    • Referent

    • Informational

  • Positional or Harsh Power

    • Legitimate

    • Reward

    • Coercive

  • Personal is often more effective, especially with teams.

Social Influence Tactics

Rational Argument


Personal Appeals




Legitimizing Tactics

Coalition Tactics

The Corrupting Effect of Power

How could power change the power holder?

People with power want more power.

Easier to give commands rather than make requests

They begin to have an inflated view of themselves.

Unequal Power in Teams

  • Unequal power leads to more mistrust, less communication, and social problems.

  • Status Differences

    • Higher status people have more influence in group discussions

  • Leave external status positions at the door so everyone has equal status for best communication.

  • Group norms

    • Majority rule

    • Encourage open and shared communication.

    • Norms reduce the impact of power differences in group.

Minority Influence

  • Minorities can be influential in groups.

  • Influence depends on

    • Consistency

    • Self-confidence

    • Belief in autonomy

    • Relationship to the group

  • Stimulate team members to see different perspectives.


Empowerment in a workplace refers to the process of giving employees more power and control over their work.

Empowerment leads to increased motivation and satisfaction.

Increases confidence in abilities.

Power Styles

  • Passive

    • Polite

    • Attempts to avoid problems

    • Can cause confusion

  • Aggressive

    • Forceful, negative

    • Deals with problems by refusing to compromise

    • People may withdraw from the situation

  • Assertive

    • Clear and confident communication

    • Direct problem solving approach to conflicts

    • Goal is to find the best solution for both parties