Ethics and Human Interface:

Lecture 8 : Social influence and persuasion.

Social influence and persuasion

The analysis of manifestations of social impact lies at the very core of social psychology. Persuasion is one type of power within society. We should address these subjects in depth later, as a separate article. Understanding how society influences one is quite fascinating. Now let’s reflect on the main notions.

Social Influence

Social influence refers to how people influence other people’s attitudes, values, beliefs, feelings, and actions. We are bombarded each day by countless other efforts to sway us. Consider our daily exposure to radio and television commercials, newspaper ads, direct requests, salespeople’s, politicians’ attempts of persuasion, and so on.

Theorists have broadly classified the social influence into three forms – conformity, compliance, and obedience. The key difference between them is as below.

  1. Conformity – Behavior change in response to real or imagined social pressure.
  2. Compliance – Behavior change in response to an explicit request to perform some action.
  3. Obedience – Behavior change in response to an Extreme pressure demand to perform some action.

Based about how much pressure is involved societal impact differs. Imitation does not involve pressure, conformity involves peer pressure, compliance involves an explicit request to perform certain behaviours, and obedience is a response to a direct order to perform some action. In other terms, Imitation is the shift in actions where there is no peer control. The impetus for a shift in actions rises as a consequence of compliance as well as obedience. Obedience to the most direct form of social influence, the most indirect form of social influence is conformity; compliance is between the two.

Social Persuasion

Persuasion refers to an active attempt to change the attitudes , beliefs, or sentiments of another person , usually through some form of communication. In general, persuasion is treated as a distinct form from that of the other three forms of social influence. This is more related to conformity and compliance, as you may rightly guess. Persuasion is an active form of influence, and its emphasis is internal. The aim of such influence is to change people’s beliefs or feelings.

Systematic persuasion is the process that leverages attitudes or beliefs through appeals to logic and reason. In comparison, heuristic persuasion is the mechanism by which behaviours or opinions are leveraged through habit or emotional appeals.

Practice questions:

  1. “Social influence and persuasion can contribute in eliminating evils in the society”. Discuss.
  2. How could influence and persuasion contribute to desirable social and economic change in the country?
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