It is the study to find how individual thought- process, actions etc. are influenced by social groups.

People are influenced by advertising, criticism, mass media, personality, propaganda etc.

The individual in an influential situation could comply, identify or internalize. (Herbert Kelman)


  • Like an appearance of agreement  with others in social structure.
  • People might agree or disagree with others but do not disclose their opinions.
  • g. on a racist comment, a person is offended but says nothing.
  • Social impact theory (Bibb Latané): Group strength, Immediacy, Number, Similarity.


  • Identifying with an influential person whom someone idolizes. E.g. Hair style like M.S. Dhoni.


  • A belief or behaviour is completely internalized and agreed to both publically and personally.

Types (Ballmeister and Bushman, 2010)

  1. Normative influence
  • Related to the act of going along with the crowd.
  • Due to human’s fundamental need to belong to a social group.
  • Asch’s classic study (1995): “People are willing to make decisions consistently with the group, even when the group makes clear mistakes.”
  1. Informative influence
  • People go with the crowd because they think that crowd knows more than them.
  • Two types of situations: (a) Ambiguous Situations: When don’t know what to do. (b) Crisis situations: When don’t have time to think what to do.


Factors Affecting Social Influence

  • Charismatic personality like beauty, money etc.
  • Reputation: involves credibility factor. Eg. Experience.
  • Peer Pressure: people tend to do things just to maintain positive relationship with others.
  • Emotions: Strong emotions have stronger influence.
  • Social Trends: Large influence especially when they are creative.

Cialdini’s six “Weapons of Influence”

  1. Reciprocity: It leads to a sense of obligation. People give back what has been given to them. E.g. replying a smile with a smile.
  2. Consistency: Commitment to be consistent with their previous actions.
  3. Social proof: People often decide what to do by looking at crowd. Uncertain people could be influenced easily.
  4. Source credibility or authority: Influential power of authority .For example; parental authority, religious leader etc.
  5. Source likeability: People are more easily influenced by those they like .For example; actors, physical attractiveness.

The Halo effect is the assumption: if a person has desirable traits (e.g. physical attractiveness), he might also have other desirable effects such as intelligence.

  1. Scarcity: Scare opportunities are more desirable as they are less accessible. For example: censored movies, limited edition, slogan etc. have an immediate effect.