Social Psychology: Examining the Principles Essay

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The pervasive nature of social influence can be seen through its role in the formation of social identity, collective action, social movements, the diffusion of innovations, and group productivity and cohesion among others.

"Social influence is defined as a change in an individual's thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behaviors that results from interaction with another individual or group" (Rashotte 2006:4427). There are two forms of social influence normative and informational forms. Normative social influence is the change in an individual's thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behaviors as a result of that individual's desire to fulfill others' expectations. Thus if we are a positive environment and socially good group, the social influence will have positive effect on our personality. For example if we belong to a group where mannerism, values and virtues are appreciated, it will help us to develop good habits in ourselves and conversely if the environment of our group is negative it will lead us in developing bad attitudes and habits in ourselves.

Another important concept is that attitudes and behaviors are shaped by the possible sanctions and rewards fellow group members administer. Informational social influence is influence that leads individuals to accept information obtained from others as evidence of reality. In the latter case, perceptions are affected when the individual depends on others for information to interpret and understand a situation.

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Research in sociology, specifically structural social psychology, has argued that interpersonal influence can arise from a variety of sources including race, age, sex, physical attractiveness, and sexual orientation (Rashotte 2006). In this respect, there are two specific areas of research in structural social psychology; status characteristics theory and social identity theory. These theories conceptualize interpersonal influence as occurring within a broader social context that is dependent

Essay on Social Psychology: Examining the Principles Assignment

Here interpersonal (social) influence is a process whereby a group of individuals process and weigh information from others given the social context within which the group is operating (Rashotte 2006). This social context represents a form of social structural constraint that guides individuals on how information from others should be processed and weighed in the formulation of their own opinions. Both status characteristics and social identity theories provide formal mechanisms that assist in modeling how information from others is incorporated into an individual's opinion and therefore how correlated behavior may emerge

Briefly it is evident that our feelings, thoughts and perceptions are influenced by the environment in which we live. The environment is compiled of our family, friends, colleagues and co-workers. It has been evidenced that the group members respond in a way that other group member want them to be so if we belong to a social network or group that has strong and positive values we develop positive attitudes and good habbits. Conversely we belong to a group or social network that is mainly negative we do not develop healthy attitudes.

4 Cultural and Gender Influences

Culture and gender have been considered to have a strong impact on social behavior. Gender difference and its impact on social behavior has been an important part of social psychology. Where and when gender will have an effect on a person's performance has been discussed widely in prior research; for instance, ways the labor market opportunity structure affects women's school performance and subject choices (Baker and Jones, 1993). For example, in the U.S. Bureau report of 2003, females have demonstrated not only a quantitative increase in numbers of attendees, but also shown as good qualitative academic performance as their male classmates have in school.

One theory that I want to discuss in the context of cultural and gender influences is social capital theory. According to structural hole argument of social capital theory, social capital is formed through a network where people can make connections connecting the disconnected segments; which means the individual who becomes the knot to connect two unrelated networks will have the best social capital and get the most information. Hence, to the individual, the best way to manage the social network in new environment may be develop both host network and co-national network; the "bi-cultural network." Staying in the position that connects a host-network and a co-national network is possibly the way to receive the most resources. Swagler's study about Taiwanese students in the U.S. has a similar conclusion: in which the general patterns indicated that Taiwanese students who had contact with both Taiwanese and Americans have better adjustment and performance in school (Swagler and Ellis, 2003). Ainsworth's study about African-American students and Tapia's study about Latinos both pointed out that without this access to increase social capital, students present low educational aspiration and attainment, which are deeply related to their academic performance.

Behavioral and social distinctions between male and female students have demonstrated in many different issues. For example, achievement values of males depend upon the combination of internal family influence and external status; but females don't.

Culture has also its impact on social behavior. Each cultural groups have its own values and patterns. The study of racial/ethnic groups in the United States has produced a copious historical sociological literature, written mostly from the assimilation perspective. Assimilation is a key concept in this theory and its oppositional theories, and the essential link with inequality. Sociocultural theory supposes that the more an individual "melts" into mainstream culture; the better off they will be, including better adjustment and successful performance. If they do not melt, the racial and cultural differences prompt the development of ethnic antagonism (Bonacich, 1972), like racial discrimination and inequality.

Oppositional scholars argue assimilation is not necessary for decreasing inequality. People of ethnic subgroups should not be expected to give up their culture and identity in order to accept so-called "mainstream" American society. Original cultural characteristics may bring advantage to minorities in adjusting, for instance, the success of Jews and Japanese immigrants in the U.S.

Group differences, socioeconomic status influence persons behaviors and attitudes in many ways. For example students' academic performance is often credited to whether the resources are available, mainly financial resources. Though low socioeconomic status is a contributor to children's poor educational outcomes, in cross-culture research and the U.S. education census, some ethnic groups still reported better academic performance than Whites; even while their socioeconomic status is lower than Whites in United States. This means that socioeconomic status alone cannot explain the academic performance of students sufficiently

Research studies have also shown that culture as well as gender influences the performance of a person Sociocultural theory proposes that individuals would have better adjustment and more successful performance if they were to assimilate into the mainstream culture. However, a counter position which argues that assimilation is not necessary in decreasing inequality, but only decreased the cultural advantage of minorities, is often supported by researchers.


The essay discussed the principles of persuasion influencing group behavior. The author particularly focused on the social, cultural and gender influences on a person behavior. The author also discussed the recent concepts and issues emerged.

Persuasion principles are those principles that discuss attitudes change that is directly influenced by exposure to a communication is called persuasion. Under persuasion comes the social, gender and culture behavior. Our feelings, thoughts and perception are influenced by our environment, parents, friends and society. The author discussed that social behavior, gender differences and cultural differences have great influence on our attitude.

Gender and cultural background has been seen to have a strong impact on a person's social life and achievements and performance. Socio economic factors, linguistic factors, family characteristic factors, and peer factors all have predictive associations for the group behavior. This is apparent in communication studies showing that in-group sources are more persuasive than out-group sources. More recent work has revealed a social motivation underlying this group effect in persuasion. For instance, typically pro-attitudinal messages receive more attention than counter-attitudinal messages. Under conditions of self-affirmation, receivers are more motivated to process counter-attitudinal messages and to process pro-attitudinal messages in a less biased fashion. These authors suggest that resources otherwise dedicated to preserving a stable connection with the group can be devoted to processing otherwise threatening information.


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.

Hovland, Carl I., Irving L. Janis, and Harold H. Kelley. (1953) Communication and Persuasion: Psychological Studies of Opinion Change New Haven: Yale UP,. Print.

Myers, David G. (2010). Social Psychology (10th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-337066-8

Petty, R.E., & Cacioppo, J.T. (1986b) The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol. 19. New York: Academic Press, pp. 123-205.

Rashotte, L.S. 2006. "Social Influence." Pp. 4426-4429 in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Volume 9,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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