We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Social Influences?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Social influences could be defined as the sum of all things that may change or have some effect on a person’s behavior, thoughts, actions, or feelings. This is a concept studied both in social psychology and sociology, and it has broad applications in a number of other fields, especially in marketing. Studies may focus on ways in which behavior is influenced by outside factors, and this could be behavior of a whole group or of discrete individuals. Certainly in things like psychological practice or therapy, the degree to which a person is socially influenced may say much about his or her mental status.

A variety of scholars have defined ways in which individuals respond to social influences. The individual in an influential situation could comply, identify, or internalize, as defined by Professor Herbert Kelmen, a well-known scholar in this subject. Compliance might look like agreement with others in a social setting, but below the surface, the person has by no means been fully convinced. For instance, if in a conversation between two people, one person makes a racist comment and the other is offended and says nothing, this could be viewed as complying, so that the appearance of agreement is maintained.

Other people may identify with an influential person they either idolize from a distance or know intimately. A person whose wardrobe choice is solely influenced by the fashion advice of a supermodel would be expressing identification. Alternately, people may internalize belief systems of others. If the two conversing people in the previous example both express racist statements, they are showing they have a belief system in common, however repugnant it may be, and they have moved far past the point of compliance.

A different set of terms could instead be conforming, complying, and obeying. In conformity, people choose to adjust their behavior to make it line up with others. Social influences here are often called normative influence because the true influential component is what “other people” or a group is doing, and how to change behavior or thinking so that it matches other people. People who comply with others directly do what they are asked, such as taking out the trash, and those who obey others do what they’re told. Interestingly, children may move in the opposite direction as they grow, progressing from obedience to parents, compliance with parents (and possibly peers and teachers), and then conforming to peer groups.

Another way of viewing these influences is to discuss the types of things that may affect the behavior the average person. These include the person’s family, family beliefs, and family structure. Other factors, particularly as people progress to adulthood, become involved. What other people are doing in peer groups is a powerful influence.

Moreover, any exposure to media is likely to be influential in shaping a way a person thinks, behaves, and acts. Constant marketing blitzes on television do influence the way people think and feel, as do the words of favorite celebs, politicians, and virtually all media. The degree to which a person responds to influence can depend on many factors, including personality, rearing, and life experiences, though there tends to be some predictable response in certain settings.

Social influences in group settings have been explored, especially as relates to how a group will respond to a call for help. The bystander effect is one example of this. When a large group witnesses a crime, no one may respond because there is assumption in the group — a conforming assumption — that someone else will help. Should one person begin to help, however, others will break out of the group mentality and likely assist too. People who are in danger in front of a group are urged to appeal to an individual by describing that individual or calling that person by name to break this conforming standard of the group.

Ultimately, social influences can affect people significantly, and they come in many forms. Not everyone is equally coerced to maintain cohesion in thinking with a group to which they belong. Interestingly, there are some things that may change a person’s willingness or lack thereof to comply or agree. Those who suffer significant fear or those who are in love are more likely to become much more compliant with a group’s ideas or much more resistant to them. Perhaps strong emotion of many kinds may have this effect and change the normal dynamic.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By cupcake15 — On Aug 06, 2010

Sneakers41- I have felt like that before. I wanted to say that it has to do with social age.

Social age is really a matter of maturity. When people say, “Act your age” they are really asking for a certain level of maturity.

That is just like the example of the older woman and the shorter dress. She was adhering to her social age because of normative social influence.

By sneakers41 — On Aug 06, 2010

Normative social theory means to conform to what's acceptable. Although the group is conforming they may not be happy that they're doing so.

They continue to behave in an acceptable fashion in order to be accepted by the group.

For example, an older woman might want to wear a short mini dress but instead chooses a knee length dress because it is more socially acceptable.

The older woman wore the dress that she didn't want to wear but she did so because she wanted to conform to the group and knew that the longer dress would be more socially acceptable for the group. It is a form of peer pressure of sorts.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.