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Social Influence And Persuasion | ETHICS

Social Influence And Persuasion | ETHICS

Social influence 

  • Social influence is described as the change in person’s behaviour, thoughts, feelings and attitudes that results from interaction with another individual in society.
  • It can be intentionally or unintentionally, as a result of the way the changed person perceives themselves in relationship to the influencer.
  • It is different from conformity, power and authority. Many psychologists affirmed that social influence is the process by which individuals make real changes to their outlooks and behaviours as a result of communication with others who are perceived to be similar, desirable, or expert.
  • People adjust their views with respect to others to whom they feel similar in accordance with psychological principles such as balance.
  • Persons are also influenced by the majority: when a large portion of an individual’s referent social group holds a particular attitude, it is possible that the individual will adopt it as well.
  • Additionally, individuals may change a belief under the influence of another who is perceived to be an expert in the matter at hand.

Types Of Social Influence

  • Compliance
    • It happens when people agree with others but do not disclose their opinions.
  • Identification
    • It happens when people get influenced by someone who is liked and respected. E.g. celebrities, etc.
  • Internalisation
    • It happens when a belief or behaviour is completely internalised and agreed to both publicly and personally.

Factors Affecting Social Influence

Factors affecting social influence are:

  • Charisma
    • Charisma of a person is the ability to influence people as per one’s own will. People who have beauty, riches, good jobs etc. usually wield greater influence on others than ordinary people. All these things instil undying confidence in a person which boosts self-esteem. This is a vital factor in determining the influence one exerts over others.
  • Reputation
    • This involves credibility factor in determining social influence. Credibility comes from many reasons like experience, attractiveness etc.
  • Peer Pressure
    • In this people tend to do things which they might not be personally interested in, just to maintain positive relationship with other people and even friends.
  • Emotions
    • Strong emotions have stronger influences over people.
  • Social Trends
    • They are great carriers of social influence especially when they are creative and non-conforming.

Persuasion | Social Influence And Persuasion

  • Persuasion is symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people through transmission of a message to change their attitudes or behaviours.  Thus, Persuasion is one form of social influence on attitude; in fact it represents the intersection of social thinking and social influence of everyday life.
  • The key elements of persuasion are:
    • Persuasion is symbolic, utilizing words, images, sounds, etc
    • It involves a deliberate attempt to influence others.
    • Self-persuasion is key. People are not coerced; they are instead free to choose. Coercive techniques are not scientifically proved to be effective.

Persuasive Communication

  • Any communication which tends to change, shape and reinforce the responses of another is known as persuasive communication. It is usually targeted at:
  • Cognition
    • Persuasion is considered as a potent tool to change individuals’ beliefs about an object or issue. This may include attributes, interpretation, definition, outcome etc.
  • Attitude
    • Persuasion is also employed to change individuals’ attitude towards an object or an issue. It basically refers to categorisation of an object or the issue as per evaluative dimension which stretches from negative to positive.
  • Behaviour
    • Persuasion is also used to change a person’s behaviour i.e. the overt actions regarding an object or an issue.
  • Persuasion stands in contrast to manipulation and propaganda. Where propaganda is the communication of a viewpoint, with the final goal of having the recipient voluntarily accept the position as if it were his own. It thus, comes laden with distinctive features like ideological bent, institutional nature, mass persuasion etc. Manipulation on the other hand, has elements of coercion automatically embedded unlike persuasion which is ethically neutral.

Persuasive Psychological Manipulation Techniques

There are some classic persuasion techniques that are frequently used.

  • Foot-in-the-door
  • Low ball
  • Door-in-the-face
  • Foot-in-the-mouth
  • That’s-not-all
  • Because
  • Hard-to-get
  • Deadline
  • Fear-then-relief
  • But-you-are-free-of
  • A little is better than nothing
  • Attribution technique
  • Touch Technique

Attribution Theory Of Persuasion | Social Influence And Persuasion

  • Attribution is a technique by which individuals clarify the causes of behaviour and events. Attribution theory is the study of models to explain those processes. Humans try to explain the actions of others through either dispositional attribution or situational attribution.
  • Dispositional attribution, also known as internal attribution, attempts to indicate a person’s traits, abilities, motives, or dispositions as a cause or explanation for their actions. Situational attribution, generally called as to as external attribution, attempts to point to the context around the person and factors of his surroundings, particularly things that are completely out of his control.
  • Fundamental attribution error is people’s tendency to place an unnecessary emphasis on internal characteristics (dispositional explanations) to explain other person’s behaviour in a given situation, instead of considering external factors (situational explanations).
  • Generally, people tend to make dispositional attributions more often than situational attributions when trying to explain or understand a person’s behaviour. This happens when people are much more focused on the individual because they do not know much about their situation.
  • In order to persuade others, people tend to explain positive behaviours and accomplishments with dispositional attribution, but their own negative behaviours and shortcomings with situational attributions.

Effects of Persuasion

  • Miller (1980) suggested that communications exert three different persuasive effects: shaping, reinforcing, and changing responses.
  • Shaping: Attitudes are “shaped” by associating pleasurable environments with a product, person, or idea.
  • Reinforcing: Contrary to popular opinion, many persuasive communications are not designed to convert people, but to reinforce a position they already hold.
  • Changing: This is perhaps the most important persuasive impact and the one that comes most frequently to mind when we think of persuasion. Communications can and do change in attitudes.

Conclusion | Social Influence And Persuasion

  • Social influence is the way in which external factors produce change in an individual.
  • It guides the way person form his/her thoughts and organize overt behavior and actions.
  • Along with persuasion it can bring drastic results in altering the moral compass of individuals.