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To What Extent Are We All 'Victims' Of Social Influence?

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To What Extent Are We All 'Victims' Of Social Influence? Social influence is the science of influence, persuasion and compliance and is employed by an 'agent' or 'practitioner' upon a 'target'. The tactic used or the message given is the agent's 'advocacy'. We have the ability to be either agents or targets at any given time or in any situation. The moment we interact with another person or group of people we almost always affect one another's behaviour. Therefore one might describe the definition of social influence as the changes in a person's behaviour, attitude or belief, induced by the presence or actions of others. Inducing a change in behaviour is called 'compliance'. Inducing a change in attitude is called persuasion. Inducing a change in belief is called either education or propaganda, depending on your stand point. Being knowledgeable in the ways of social influence can help to move someone to adopt a different attitude, belief or action. Being aware of social influence can help us resist the influence attempts of others. However, most people are unaware of these influences because the social influence processes can be subtle and indirect i.e. ...read more.


They identified that when a number of people are performing an action, an individual will put less effort into it than if acting alone. In today's high tech society, never has the power of persuasion been so strong. There are people who make a living out of influencing us. From the moment we wake we are bombarded with numerous direct attempts to control our behaviour and thoughts through adverting, the media and personal interaction. From the breakfast serial we eat, to the car we drive to work in. From the clothes we wear, to the religion we follow. From the time we arrive at work, to the time we leave. Virtually every move we make has been influenced in some way because our desire to conform makes us volunerable to social influence. Conformity is a change in thoughts, feelings or behaviour to bring them in line with the social norm. Social norm is the widely accepted ideas or rules about how people should behave or what they should believe. Levin and Gaeth (1988) studied how consumers were affected by the framing of attribute information before and after consuming the product. ...read more.


Although the 'teachers' were clearly disturbed by what they were doing, hardly any of them refused to obey. This nastier side of social influence can be seen throughout history. An example of which was the Vietnam War when American soldiers routinely and unquestioningly, murdered unarmed men, women and children because they were 'under orders' to do so. It seems then that we are all 'victims' of social influence from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. Influencing others is part of the experience of being human. Is George Orwell's visionary novel '1984' becoming a reality? Is there any part of our lives that is not controlled to some extent? Are we all trapped by our own personal 'Room 101' i.e the fear (real or imagined) of what will happen to us if we do not conform? On a more positive note, social influence makes society work smoothly. Successful persuasion makes physical force unnecessary and therefore benefits society as a whole. As society benefits from persuasion, those who know how to persuade, in turn benefit from society. We are all 'victims' of social influence in virtually everything we do or believe in and we are also capable of inflencing others. Agent or target? Vulture or victim? Either way influence is ubiquitous in everyday life. ...read more.

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