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What is Social influence

Social influenced is the effect that people have upon the beliefs or behaviors of others (Aaronson, 2004).


  • Social influence in which individuals change their attitudes or behaviour in order to adhere to existing social norms.
  • A form of social influence involving direct request from one person to another.
  • A form of social influence in which one person obeys direct orders from another to perform some action(s)


The comparatively young science of social influence, however, can trace its roots to the second world war, when a social psychologist named Carl Hovland was contracted by the U.S. Armed Forces to bolster the morale of soldiers. President Roosevelt was concerned that Americans would lose the will to fight after winning victory in Europe. It was Hovland's job to motivate soldiers to continue fighting against Japan. Since World War II, social influence has become a vastly expanding field of study devoted to discovering the principles that determine our beliefs, create our attitudes, and move us to action.


For example, you’re as a teenager your parents tell you don’t ride in the car with someone who has been drinking.  It's Friday night, party night, your friends get in the car with a senior whose been drinking. They ask you  if you want a ride.  You reply "no" because of mom's advice.  They assure you the senior driving only had three beers and the party is only 4 blocks away and honey's will be there.  They assure you... you will be safe.  You start to think maybe mom’s over reacting, three beers "does not mean drunk", after all he doesn’t look drunk. You hop in the car!

Social Influence occurs in the example because other people had an effect on behavior. Social influence is similar to peer pressure in that it’s effects on you come from people, and it may alter your decisions.  Social influenced can have positive or negative effects on people. Not all social influence is negative. Not all peer pressure is negative. Not all effects are negative.  Social influence in short is the effects of the way you think and act as a result of various associations in society.