Social Psychology Examining the Principles of Persuasion Influencing Group Behavior Essay

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Social Psychology: Examining the Principles of Persuasion Influencing Group Behavior

Introduction & Outline of the

Research Evaluation

Concepts of Social Psychology

Attitudes and Persuasion

Social Identity Theory

Social Influences

Cultural and Gender Influences

Social Psychology: Examining the Principles of Persuasion Influencing Group Behavior

Introduction & Outline of the Essay

Social psychology deals with different aspects of social life and social behavior. People not only have feelings and opinions about nearly everything they come into contact with, but the argument has been made that we need to have these feelings and opinions. The current essay is aimed at exploring the principles of persuasion influencing group behavior. The foundation for this essay is text book "Social Psychology" by Myers (2010) which discusses the attitude theory and persuasion, reviewing how attitudes are structured and how this structure influences their susceptibility to change

The essay is divided into four sections. In the first section the researcher will evaluate latest research and pertinent literature allied to social psychology and group behavior. The researcher will focus on trends in recent literature, the rising topics/apprehensions in this field of research.

In second section, the author will discuss the concepts of psychology specially focusing on what are the ways in which different factors effect our perceptions and attitudes and how we react.

Third section describes the ways in which different social factors like our relationship with our family and friends as well as our socioeconomic status, etc. persuade our attitudes and behaviors. What are some of the positive influences, and conversely, how can these influences have a negative impact on our behaviors?

In section 4, the author discusses cultural and gender influences. This section examines how social behavior is impacted by way of life in a culture. The influence of culture on our identity, the influence of group/norm and peer persuaiton on our behavior

1. Research Evaluation

Attitude change that is directly influenced by exposure to a communication is called persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Persuasion research boomed as a psychological topic of inquiry following World War II. Researchers clamored to map out the properties of persuasive messages and began with the source. Three main features of a source were determined to best predict attitude change: expertise, attractiveness, and trustworthiness. Messages sourced by an expert, or someone who was attractive or trustworthy seemed to most often result in the desired change in receiver attitudes (Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953). But this was not always the case, and researchers began looking into message content for more information. The strength of arguments presented an intriguing variable to predict persuasion, but even well-built arguments were not at all times more persuasive than fragile arguments. Finally, psychologists turned to the receiver to gain more predictive power and discovered that what was most predictive of attitude change was neither source nor message characteristics, but rather the cognitive ruminations of the receiver.

Two models were developed to account for this active role of the receiver in the persuasion process. They are both based on dual modes of processing, and are still the leading models employed in current persuasion research. Quite similar in many respects, the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) and Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) use the extent of cognitive resources deployed during processing as the mediator of source and message effects. The two models have important but subtle differences that for this discussion do not have significant consequences. The main points about cognitive elaboration are critical, and for clarity, just one model will be referenced: the ELM.

Social psychologists have spent decades trying to figure out the structure of attitudes and how they can be changed. Attitudes are not isolated psychological constructs, but exist within an elaborate network of stored representations related to the attitude object. This intra-attitudinal structure is then connected to related attitudes, creating a parallel inter-attitudinal structure Greater experience with the attitude object, and acquired knowledge can increase the complexity and stability of both dimensions (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Somewhat like Hebb's law in neurobiology, the greater number of connections and the frequency with which those connections are exercised leads to stronger overall structures.

The variations in the educational trajectories of adolescents from all ethnic groups have been reviewed by researchers via the utilization of various theories. In explaining the educational gap across racial/ethnic groups, differences are frequently discussed in the context of the educational performance between
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White students and students of other racial/ethnic groups.

Studying different articles and recent research helped me to understand the concept of social psychology that I studied. I also came to know about the recent trends and emerging issues in social psychology that are focused on gender and cultural issues particularly students performance and their problems related to gender and cultur.

2. Concepts of Social Psychology

Attitudes and Persuasion

People not only have feelings and opinions about nearly everything they come into contact with, but the argument has been made that we need to have these feelings and opinions. We are motivated to evaluate all aspects of our lives, and the results of these evaluations are attitudes.

People seem to have strong attitudes about some issues, such as abortion or gun control, while their attitudes about other issues such as education reform might be weaker. Attitude strength has been defined as the level of personal importance attached to an attitude object or issue and has many subcomponents, of which attitude importance is one. Attitude importance measures the amount to which an attitude is central to the self-concept and has been associated with information seeking behavior. More important attitudes are typically accessible, resistant to change, predictive of behavior and have a strong intra-attitudinal network (Bassili, 2008). This characteristic in the persuasion context has been shown to significantly influence how a persuasive message is processed.

Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory (hereafter SIT) focuses on how categorical group memberships alter the perceptions and behaviors of individuals in social settings (Tajfel and Turner 1986). The theory emerged from seminal experimental investigations by Tajfel and colleagues who found that people's perceptions of physical objects became distorted when sets of the objects were categorized, that is, explicitly placed into groups. Specifically, individuals perceived greater similarity of objects within sets and greater dissimilarity between sets. Tajfel (1959) labeled this the accentuation effect and argued that people rely on category labels as aids to simplify and understand their environment.

The process of categorization and the resulting accentuation effect also bias judgments of social phenomenon. The most fundamental hypothesis of SIT is that the mere categorization of an individual as a member of a "minimal group" will produce a bias in favor of in-group vis-a-vis out-group members. Social categorization leads individuals to first define themselves as members of a group and then leads to perceptions of greater similarity/distinctiveness among in group/out-group members causing individuals to favor fellow in-group members in a variety of setting including the allocation of resources and sanctions, interpersonal trust, cooperation, and conflict.

Early research also found that social identity effects emerge even in situations where subjects did not interact or see one another, but were simply given nominal labels and then asked to allocate rewards to in-group and out-group members (Tajfel, 1979). A substantial body of research has continued to provide support for the theory's main arguments .

In the social identity view, when people classify themselves as an in-group member, the in-group functions as an indication for social comparison, and people espouse the prototypic in-group behaviors and values as their own. Building on this analysis, Turner (1994) suggested that groups apply influence in the course of a particular process, which he named referent informational influence. In this perspective, group member agree with each other and this attitude is considered helpful to improve individual and group confidence suggesting that that the common attitudes mirror external reality and the objective truth of the topic. If similar others disagree on an issue, this thin indicates subjective doubt and inspires people to deal with the difference through, for instance, shared social influence, provenance reasoning to make clear the disagreement, or adjustment of behavior.

This point-of-view implies that individuals are only influential to the degree that they represent the prototypical attitudes, behaviors, and values of the group. For instance studies of leaders' ability to achieve legitimacy and influence have supported this point. As Turner (1994) argues, social categorization is the causal driver of influence. The self-categorization process differs from standard approaches to persuasion by emphasizing group identity as the determinants of attitude change rather than in their understanding of issues.

3 Social Influences

One of the most important and prevalent processes that generates interdependencies in groups is social influence. In many cases social influence arises because individuals are impacted by the observation and interpretation of decisions made by others. Incorporating information from others has been argued to be one of the primary ways in which individuals reduce the costs of making decisions (Cialdini 2001). By simply paying attention to others and incorporating that information into their beliefs, interdependencies between individuals can arise and significantly…

Sources Used in Documents:


Baker, David P. And Deborah Perkins Jones. 1993. "Creating Gender Equality: Cross-national Gender Stratification and Mathematical Performance." Sociology of Education 66:91-103.

Bassili, J.N. (2008). Attitude strength. In W.D. Crano & R. Prislin, (Eds.), Attitudes and attitude change, Frontiers of social psychology. New York, NY; Psychology Press, pp. 261-286.

Cialdini, R.B. 2001. Influence: Science and Practice. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Eagly, A.H. & Chaiken, S. (1993) The Psychology of Attitudes. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

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