It is through the influence process that people generate and manage change. As such, it is important to understand fully the workings of the influence processes that produce compliance with requests for change. Fortunately, a vast body of scientific evidence exists on how, when, and why people comply with influence attempts. From this formidable body of work, one can extract six universal principles of influence that generate compliance in the widest range of circumstances. Reciprocation states that people are more willing to comply with requests (for favors, services, information, concessions, etc.) from those who have provided such things first. Commitment/Consistency states that people are more willing to be moved in a particular direction if they see it as consistent with an existing commitment. Authority states that people are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant expertise. Social Proof states that people are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it. Scarcity states that people find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability. Finally, Liking states that people prefer to say yes to those they like, such as those who are similar to them and who have complimented them.
Chad R. Mortensen and Robert B. Cialdini
Adam R. Pearson and Matthew T. Ballew
Environmental sustainability, the long-term management and protection of earth’s resources and ecosystems, is increasingly recognized as a societal challenge shaped by human behavior at every level of social interaction, from neighborhoods to nations. Psychological perspectives on conservation, which have traditionally emphasized individual determinants of proenvironmental behavior (e.g., personal environmental concern), have begun to incorporate a more nuanced picture of the ways in which both individual and group-level processes can influence conservation efforts. In particular, research on social norms and identity-based influences suggests that social perceptions, such as beliefs about what actions are common and socially valued, can be more powerful drivers of conservation behavior than monetary incentives, proenvironmental appeals, or the ease of proenvironmental actions. Additional research has begun to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives and insights from diversity science and intervention science to better understand how different cultural orientations and social identity processes, such as those related to race, ethnicity, and social class, impact environmental decision-making. A new class of “wise” interventions that target psychological mechanisms that shape conservation behavior, such as interventions that incorporate normative feedback, target public behavior, or seek to alter daily routines during major life transitions, have proven especially effective at promoting sustained behavior change. Generally, behavioral interventions are more effective at promoting conservation behavior when they are tailored to the social context in which behavior occurs.
Issues of attitudes and attitude change are the foundation of many social processes. Psychologists have long sought to understand people’s opinions and evaluations and many studies have sought to understand how, why, and when those attitudes change in the face of persuasive communication. Early persuasion research identified many variables that influence the effectiveness of persuasive messages. These variables include characteristics of the communicator, the recipient, and the message itself. Over the years, however, the evidence for these influences became rather mixed, prompting a new generation of persuasion psychologists to ask whether there was a sensible pattern underlying it. This question ushered in several new approaches to thinking about persuasion. These “dual process” models proposed key moderators, identifying the conditions under which certain variables would and would not produce attitude change. A particularly influential model has been the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), which proposed that the audience’s motivation and ability to think deeply about a persuasive message determines how much a given characteristic of that message will change the audience’s attitude. Other models, such as the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM), have contributed additional insights about the “when” and “why” of attitude change. In sum, these nuanced accounts of attitude change have been demonstrated time and again across cultures and topics of persuasion.
David E. Rast III and Christine Kershaw
Although social influence and leadership are inextricably intertwined, with a few notable exceptions, they are typically discussed in isolation from one another. The overlap of methods of social influence and theories of leadership, however, makes it clear these topics should be discussed together. Furthermore, the involvement of group norms, which are group-based social constructs related to values within the group, clearly link leadership and social influence research. Group norms are involved in social influence via such group-oriented influences as conformity, and they are involved in leadership by setting the values used to determine the group’s leader. Understanding the relationship between and the potential limitations of social influence and leadership will provide researchers in both fields with a stronger foundation for future areas of inquiry.
John Drury and Stephen Reicher
The challenge for a psychology of crowds and collective behavior is to explain how large numbers of people are, spontaneously, able to act together in patterned and socially meaningful ways and, at the same time, how crowd events can bring about social and psychological change. Classical theories, which treat crowd psychology as pathological, deny any meaning to crowd action. More recent normative and rationalist models begin to explain the coherence of crowd action but are unable to explain how that links to broader social systems of meaning. In both cases, the explanatory impasse derives from an individualistic conception of selfhood that denies any social basis to behavioral control. Such a basis is provided by the social identity approach. This proposes that crowd formation is underpinned by the development of shared social identity whereby people see themselves and others in terms of membership of a common category. This leads to three psychological transformations: members perceive the world in terms of collective values and belief systems; they coordinate themselves effectively; and hence they are empowered to realize their collective goals. These transformations explain the social form of crowd action. At the same time, crowd events are intergroup phenomena. It is through the intergroup dynamics between the crowd and an out-group (typically the police)—more specifically the way the social position of crowd members can change through the way police officers understand and respond to their actions—that change can occur. The social identity framework helps make sense of a range of phenomena beyond conflict crowds, including behavior in emergencies and disasters and the psychology of mass gatherings. The practical adequacy of the social identity approach is demonstrated by its use in a number of applied fields, including “public order” policing, crowd and emergency management, mass gatherings, health, and pedestrian modeling.
R. Scott Tindale and Jeremy R. Winget
Group decisions are ubiquitous in everyday life. Even when decisions are made individually, decision-makers often receive advice or suggestions from others. Thus, decisions are often social in nature and involve multiple group members. The literature on group decision-making is conceptualized as falling along two dimensions: how much interaction or information exchange is allowed among the group members, and how the final decision is made. On one end, group decisions can be made simply by aggregating member preferences or judgments without any interaction among members, with members having no control or say in the final judgment. One the other end, groups’ decisions can involve extensive member interaction and information exchanges, and the final decision is reached by group consensus. In between these two endpoints, various other strategies are also possible, including prediction markets, Delphi groups, and judge–advisor systems. Research has shown that each dimension has different implications for decision quality and process depending on the decision task and context. Research exploring these two dimension has also helped to illuminate those aspects of group decision-making that can lead to better-quality decisions.
Bradley W. Young, Bettina Callary, and Scott Rathwell
Paralleling the graying of the baby boomer generation, there has been remarkable growth in the number of Masters athletes (adult sport participants generally 35+ years old) and Seniors athletes (55+) worldwide. The phenomenon of the aging or older athlete is an opportunity to study the psychological conditions and considerations that distinguish older sportspersons from their younger counterparts. Although the vast majority of sport psychology research focuses on youth and adolescents or young adults in a high-performance context, a critical mass of literature on middle-aged and older athletes has emerged. Much research has aimed to understand the sport motivation of older adults; this work has evolved from early descriptive works to increasingly theoretically grounded and analytically advanced efforts that seek to better understand older athletes’ sport commitment and their long-term goal striving behaviors. Another theme of inquiry relates to the nature of adult athletes’ social motivations and the role of social identity in explaining immersion into sport. Research has examined various social influences on older athletes, and specifically how different social agents and social norms come to bear on older athletes’ sport participation. Much work has interrogated how social support facilitates older sport participation as well as the unique negotiations that older adults make with significant others to sustain their experience. Another research theme has sought to determine the various psychosocial benefits of adult sport, cataloguing benefits related to personal growth, age-related adaptation, and successful aging outcomes. Although the discourse on adult sport has been overly positive, several contributions have problematized aspects of adult sport, challenged the assertion that adult athletes are models that many others could follow, and have further suggested that narratives of Masters athletes may reinforce ageist stigma.