exert influence

Social influence

Social influence is when the actions or thoughts of individuals are changed by other individuals. Examples of social influence can be seen in socialization and peer pressure. This is the effect of other people on a person's behavior. Social Influence can also be covered as a type of persuasion.


Peer Pressure

In the case of peer pressure, a person is convinced to do something (such as going to an opera and doing illegal drugs) they might not like but which they perceive as "necessary" to upkeep the positive relationship with the other party, such as the family of their partner. The person could agree to the offering even if he hated it for many reasons; maybe he or she is the possible inheritor of the family/person that asks him or her to come to the opera, the family could want to evaluate the person before letting their son/daughter get married with him/her, etc.


Social influence can also be described as power - the ability to influence a person/group of people to one's own will. Usually people who possess beauty, significant sums of money, good jobs and so on will possess social influence on other, "ordinary" people. So even if the person doesn't possess any "real" or political power but possesses the things listed above (good looks, money, etc.), he could persuade other people into doing something. However, good looks are not solely why attractive people are able to exert more influence than average looking people, e.g. confidence is the by-product of good looks. Therefore, the individual's self-esteem and perceived Persona is the critical factor in determining the amount of influence one exerts.

A popular case involving social influence is the one directed by Charles Manson, who had led a group of allies to murder many people. This case ended with his imprisonment, although it is often wondered how Manson had managed to direct his "Family" so well.


Those perceived as experts may exert social influence as a result of their perceived expertise. This involves credibility, a form of social influence from which one draws upon the notion of trust. People believe an individual to be credible for a variety of reasons, such as perceived experience, attractiveness, etc.


Some people exert influence not by directly influencing large numbers of people, but by their connections to people in power.

Bully Pulpit

Those with access to the media may use this access in an attempt to influence the public. For example, a politician may use speeches to persuade the public to support issues that he or she does not have the power to impose on the public. This is often referred to as using the "bully pulpit".

Another example would be movie stars, who do not usually possess any political power but are familiar to many of the world's citizens and therefore possess social status. They get a lot of media coverage and they have many enthusiastic fans.



Kelman (1961) identified three types of conformity

1. Compliance - This is where the individual says they agree with a particular view point or acts in a certain way in front of the group to achieve a favorable reaction.

2. Identification - This is where the individual says things or acts in a certain way in front of the group because they believe in what they say and do because being part of the group is important to them. This type of conformity is normally only temporary. The individual will revert back to their old beliefs once they have left the group.

3. Internalization - This is where the individual's views are truly altered. The new views become part of the individual's own value system. They don't lose these views even after leaving the group because they wholeheartedly believe the views are correct.

Reasons For

Deutsch & Gerard identified the Dual Process Model (1955) - the two psychological needs that lead humans to conform:

1. Our need to be right (Informational social influence) and;

2. Our need to be liked (Normative social influence)



One can ask several trivial questions with the expected answer "yes", building trust and acceptance. Further questions such as "Will you buy this?" or "Could you borrow this for me?" are then more likely to be answered with "Yes". This technique is used by salesmen, and unconsciously, in conversation. It is also present to a certain extent in the Socratic method of debate. See also selling technique.

See also


  • Cialdini, Robert B. (2001). ‘‘Influence: Science and practice (4th ed.)’’. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN 0321011473.
  • Hogan, Kevin (2004) ''The Science of Influence: How to Get Anyone to Say "Yes" in 8 Minutes or Less! (ISBN 978-0471670513 ).
  • Logan, C. R. (2006). Lyle Lanley You’re My Hero: or The Social Psychology of Influence. In A. S. Brown & C. R. Logan (Eds.), The Psychology of The Simpsons. Dallas: BenBella Books.

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