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illegitimate social influence.docx

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Psychology 3723F/G
Martin Kavaliers

Illegitimate Social Influence: Propaganda and Cults 4/26/2013 12:11:00 PM Social Influence  having an impact on other people  influence attitudes/beliefs (persuasion)  influence behaviour (conformity)  “legitimate” social influence:  usually based on strong arguments  agent does not hide attempt to influence  agent wants influence to be genuine – target willingly changes attitudes or behaviour  “illegitimate” social influence:  not based on strong arguments  agent may hide attempt to influence  agent does not care if target willingly changes attitudes or behaviour  often motivated by selfish goals  principles of illegitimate social influence (Cialdini, 2001)  no necessarily illegitimate, but they are exploited by “compliance professionals” e.g., o salespersons o organizations and businesses o governments  some principles may seem obvious, but are often unrecognized by the targets  Authority o Sources who possess cues of authority tend to be obeted o Often makes sense to rely on authorities o Authority is similar to factors in persuasion literature like credibility and expertise (authorities are usually credible and may be chosen because they are experts) o Deference to authority can become automatic o Illegitimate use of authority cues can elicit obedience or persuasion when it is not warranted, e.g.  Clothing that implies authority (uniform, stars/medals)  False or misleading “titles” (Dr., President, prophet)  Associate self with locations or groups that imply authority (university, sports team)  Use cues of wealth that imply authority (limousines, expensive jewelry) o Bickman (1974)  A young man approached people on the street  Pointed to man standing by parking meter 50 feet away  Sometimes the requester was dressed in normal clothes  Sometimes the requester was dressed in the uniform of a security guard  “see that guy over there by the meter? He’s overparked but doesn’t have any change. Give him a dime!”  requester then turned a corner and walked away  results:  42% gave dime when he wore normal clothes  92% gave time in uniform  Liking o We tend to agree with, and follow the recommendations of, people we like o For most targets, liking reflects a legitimate cue (e.g. we know and trust them) o Liking is similar to factors in persuasion literature like attractiveness and similarity o Deference to liked targets can become automatic o Compliance professionals can use liking to elicit compliance or persuasion, e.g.:  Excessive friendliness of salespersons  Praise or false compliments  Attempts to appear similar to targets  Free gifts or favors (see also reciprocity)  Physically attractive or likeable spokespersons  Social Proof o We tend to do what other people do o Social comparison is an important way of determining appropriate behaviours and beliefs o Usually it makes sense to follow the lead of other people o Consensus information can become a short-cut for deciding how to behave o Consensus information is especially influential when the situation is ambiguous o Compliance professionals can manipulate alleged consensus information to the influence targets, e.g.:  Portray a product as desired by the “in crowd”  Create fads (beanie babies, vampire shows)  Imply that everyone cares about a problem (unattractive lawns, ring around the collar)  Bandwagon effect: people want to belong to popular movements (and to support winners)  in politics: people are more likely to vote for the candidate who is expected to win; contrasts with the “underdog effect”: people feel empathy with those who are expected to lose  Mehrabian (1996)  Presented registered republicans in Los Angeles with false poll results for Republican primary election in 1996 (5 candidates)  Some p’s were told 47% supported candidate 1 vs 19% candidate 2; others we told the opposite  p’s were significantly more likely to say they would vote for allegedly preferred candidate  Consistency o Consistency of actions and beliefs is valued in our society o Inconsistency implies uncertainty, weakness, and tendency to flip-flop o People genuinely want to be consistent in their actions and beliefs over time (e.g., dissonance theory, self-perception theory) o People also want to appear to be consistent to others (self- presentation) o Compliance professionals can exploit the desire to be consistent, e.g.:  Foot-in-the-door technique:  Ask for small favor (target agrees)  Then ask for larger favor (target more likely to agree again than if no small request)  Probably due to self-perception bias  Low-ball technique  Offer something at a low cost (target agrees)  Then increase cost (target more likely to purchase at high cost than if no initial low cost offered)  Probably due to dissonance process  Reciprocity o A strong “reciprocity norm” exists in our society: if someone does you a favor, you should do him or her a favor in return o Therefore, receiving help or a gift creates a sense of obligation to return the favor o Reciprocity norm applies even if favor from other person was not requested o Reciprocity norm can be exploited to produce compliance, e.g.  Giving a free gift creates pressure to do something in return (e.g. free address labels from a charity)  Door-in-the-face technique:  Ask for extremely large favour (target refuses)  Then ask for smaller favour, which was the goal in the first place (target more likely to agree than if no large request first)  Scarcity o Scare resources and objects tend to be valued more o Scarcity implies popularity, which suggests that the product is high in quality (see also social proof) o Scarcity threatens our freedom to obtain the object, which makes it more attractive to us (“the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”) o Compliance professionals can make something seem scarce in order to increase its attractiveness  “limited time” or “limited number” offers  “last one in store!”  arrange to have more than one customer examine the product at the same time (e.g., house for sale)  special days of sales (e.g. boxing day sales) can create a frenzy of buying Propaganda  one form of illegitimate social influence is propaganda:  a persuasive attempt (or campaign) that is motivated by a specific ideology, or set of values, and is deliberately biased in its presentation of the information o motivated by ideology, or set of values o biased in presentation of information  typically, propaganda tries to arouse emotions in audience, rather than being based on rational appeal  emotions are often negative ones:  fear of target group  anger at target group  suspicion about motives of target group  resentment about treatment of own group  but what are “ideologies” or “sets of values”?  selfishness/greed? (e.g. dictators)  communism?  Democracy?  Mainstream political parties?  Capitalism?  Profit?  Religion?  And what does “deliberated biased in presentation of information” mean?  Dictatorship (e.g. north korea)?  Wartime media?  Political ads?  Religious semons?  Advertisements?  More appropriate to define propaganda as a dimension from “not at all propagandistic” to “extremely propagandistic”  Very little empirical research has examined propaganda  Most treatments of the topic are theoretical in nature, based on archival analyses of propaganda in the real world  These analyses propose various techniques used by propagandists, motives for propaganda, etc.  Bateman et al. (1992)  Examined impact of “
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