1: Introduction to Social Psychology
2: Our View of Self and Others
3: Obedience and Power
4: The Role of Groups
do we obey some people and not others? Why are you able to influence
your friends? What attributes cause a person to be more influential?
These questions are paramount in understanding social order. The
answers to these questions also play an important role in many professions,
such as sales and marketing and of course politics.
start with a closer look at what 'power' is. Power is typically
thought of has having a certain attribute which gives one person more
influence over another. This attribute could be intelligence or
experience, it could be job title, or perhaps money. According to most
social psychologists, there are five types of power: coercive, reward,
legitimate, expert, and referent.
the power punish. Parents are said to have coercive power because they
can place their child in time-out, for example; bosses have coercive power
because they can fire an employee or assign an employee a less pleasing job.
is almost the opposite; it is the power
to reward. In that sense parents and bosses have this type of power as
well, as do many others in our lives. Legitimate power
refers to the power granted by some
authority, such as the power a police officer has due to the local or state
government or the power a professor has due to the rules of a college or
from experience or education. Those individuals with more knowledge
tend to have more power in situations where that knowledge is important.
For instance, the physician will have more power in a medical emergency than
the plumber. But, when the pipes explode and the house is being
flooded, the physician is not the person to call. Finally,
to admiration or respect. When we look up to people because of their
accomplishments, their attitude, or any other personal attribute, we tend to
give them more power over us. Imagine being asked to do something by
your "hero" or your favorite movie star; we are very likely to
comply out of admiration or respect.
Power to Influence Others
that we know what power is and how people get it, lets talk about how this
power is used to influence others. Most of us know that liking and
agreeing tend to go together. We agree with our friends about many
issues, especially the bigger ones, and often disagree with our opponents.
Also, beliefs and behaviors tend to go together. For instance, most
people who believe stealing is very immoral would not steal, most who
believe littering is wrong, do not litter.
interesting about this latter concept is what happens when our belief and
our behavior do not correspond. You might think that we would change
the way we act, but in the real world, we tend to change our belief about a
topic before we would change our behavior. The person who believes
littering is wrong, after throwing a soda can from their car window, might
say to himself, "It was only one time," or "look at all the
other trash on the freeway." in this sense, his belief has
changed; littering is now okay if it is only done once or if others have
equate this with influencing others, we see that if we can change the way a
person behaves, we can change the way they think or feel. Imagine the
car salesman who is able to convince the potential buyer that this new car
is the one he wants to buy. The sales man might try to use many
different techniques, but one is the 'test drive.' The theory behind
this is that if the person's actions include driving the car, they are more
likely to change their belief about the car.
are other variables associated with influencing others or attitude change.
Lets take a look first at what attributes the source or the talker help her
influence others. First of all is power, as discussed above. The
more types of power and the stronger each of these is, the more influential
she will be. Second, a person must be believable in order to influence
us. The source must therefore be trustworthy, after all, if we
don't believe someone, they're going to have a much more difficult time
changing our minds. Finally, attractiveness plays a role in how
influence us. We tend to be influenced more by attractive people,
including physical and social attractiveness, likeability, demeanor, and
target or listener plays a role in how he will be influenced as well.
Those with low self-esteem and/or high self-doubt tend to be more influenced
that others. The more we doubt our own ability, the more we look to
others for guidance or input. Other factors such as age, IQ, gender,
or social status do not appear to play a significant role in how we are
influenced by others.
lets look at the relationship between the source and the target. First
of all, there needs to be some similarity between the two people. If
the target or listener does not feel any similarity with the talker, he is
much less likely to accept what she is saying. After all, we have
nothing in common so what could she possible know about my life. The
more similar the two, the greater the influential ability. Second,
there needs to be a moderate discrepancy in attitude. If the
difference between the two is too large, changing the listener's attitude or
belief will be too difficult. If the difference is too small, then no
significant change will take place at all. The difference must be
great enough that a change is possible but small enough that the listener is
open to the change.