In the intricate world of human behaviour, one name stands tall: Robert B. Cialdini. Renowned as the maestro of influence, this American psychologist reshaped the landscape of understanding with his groundbreaking social influence theory. Delving deep into the realms of ethical influence in business, Cialdini’s work remains the cornerstone of 20th-century social science. His insights are not just a theory; they are a blueprint for mastering the art of persuasion in our modern world.
He clearly shows the phenomenon of social influence and states the key principles of social influence and the levels at which social influence takes place. Okay, I’m going to give you a brief, I want you to get the clue, understand what it means and now relate it to the different encounters you come across as an individual.
Social influence according to Cialdini is “a situation where an individual’s behaviours, opinion or belief change as a result of their network ties, often becoming more similar to those they are connected with. Cialdini in his definition, clearly states the change that results because of one’s network ties, this change is not intentional, it’s conditioned, and the act shows dependency. Ivan Pavlov the Russian Physiologist discovered classical conditioning during his studies on the digestive system of dogs. Pavlov noted that animals salivate naturally upon the presentation of food just like social influences that naturally affect or manipulate our beliefs, opinions and behaviours, more often you are caught unaware you automatically find yourself conforming to doing what other people do.
Most importantly Cialdini states some of the key principles of social influence as follows; the reciprocity principle, this principle shows how individuals get obliged to give back to others what they give to them whether negative or positive, thus the popular saying “Do good to others in the same way they do to you.”
The second Cialdini’s principle is the principle of commitment mostly illustrated by people sticking to their words, they tend to show some level of accountability many times voluntarily not forced in any particular way.
The third principle is “Consistency” Written/spoken people tend to stick to particular actions voluntarily with no persuation. “Liking” is the fourth Cialdini’s principle, it states “People tend to like those who like them, or the people they perceive to be their friends.
The fifth Principle is the Authority principle, it explains how individuals are likely to listen to people who happen to be experts or the people in authority, the whole idea is to establish credibility and expertise shortcut to good decisions.
Robert. B. Cialdini’s sixth principle is the social proof or conformity principle, it clearly explains how people tend to rely on social cues from others on how to think, feel and act in many situations. The last Cialdini’s principle which is also the seventh principle is the principle of scarcity, it explains how people value what is scarce, for example when online shops like Kilimall and Jumia make offers with limited time consumers ensure that they grab whatever they might need within the specified time period.
Human beings are social creatures and one of the attributes that we possess as humans is communication, communication is a social action thus covering us under the umbrella of social influence, we network and interact with people from different angles thus the degree or levels at which our social influence may occur varies.
The major levels of social influence are; social institutions, interaction with other people and individual socialization. You might be wondering how these three work, of course, I’m talking about the social influence categories. Individual socialization majorly occurs through our personal interaction with other people, it’s simply what we get to imitate as we get along with other people, they might be our peers, the strangers we come along etc.
Social institutions can be classified as either educational or religious and help to shape our behaviour and thus can be a strong force for social influence. Interaction with other people mostly happens either willingly or unwillingly, say you bump into a stranger performing an action that got your attention, most of the time it’s difficult to avoid watching such a scenario. We interact with people at different degrees every day of our lives, thus the ease to get socially influenced can occur both in a conscious and unconscious manner.
Human beings are social creatures, and interaction/socialization is an encounter that occurs frequently in our lives, it is good to be consciously aware of everything that happens around us coz remember the behaviours you formulate as you interact form habit in you, and habit is an automated behaviour (Clear, 2018) social influence and credibly results into errors when thinking processing and interpreting information and this affects decisions and judgements.
Are your social experiences resulting in value? If yes, I want you to imagine the impact it has created so far
By: Audrey A Aluoch, AMWIK Member