Ask Study Coach Blog Academic Support the Psychology of Social Influence

We operate in a social world, online learning and other events can feature greatly in our lives; Ask Study Coach would like to address the question of: What is Social Influence? The topic falls under Psychology (the study of Mind and Behaviour). Students studying psychology should expect to conduct research, carry out experiments and use measurement to predict human behaviour. 

Psychological Approaches:

Leading psychologists have created their own unique approaches/perspectives to provide us with knowledge and understanding about human behaviour. Example of approaches: Social Learning, Behaviourism, Cognitive, Humanism, Psychoanalysis, Biological. There are different branches of psychology, for example: Developmental Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology. The study of Social Influence falls under the branch of Social Psychology. 

(This page contains an Amazon Prime Student Link, a Disclosure Notice is at the bottom of the page (Textbooks, Fashion, Essential Stationery, Movies, Music, available at Prime):


Question: What is Social Influence?

Answer: Social Influence provides an explanation of how the presence of others (group pressure) can influence an individual’s attitudes and beliefs. Social Influence can impact on the way someone will think, feel and behave. 

Question: How does group pressure works?

Answer: Group pressure can work in two ways, the pressure could be categorised as ‘real group pressure’ where the individual is told directly that they need to change their behaviour, and they yield to the pressure and change the offending behaviour. The second way is that it is an ‘imagined group pressure’ the individual is of the belief that the group would like them to adopt a certain behaviour. 

Question: Do you have an example of Social Influence? 

Answer: Consider the following: An Instagram or TikTok Influencer (media personality) can influence their followers attitudes towards life, they can influence followers beliefs, determine how followers feel, think and behave. The Influencer could determine which products followers will buy or not buy. 

Question: Is there another term for social media influence?

Answer: It could be referred to as ‘Minority influence’, the lone social media Influencer is the minority, influencing the behaviour of a large group of people.  

Question: Is there Majority Social Influence?

Answer: Yes, most social influence is based on ‘Majority influence’. The Majority (group pressure) can influence an individual to change behaviour. For example, a group of school children can influence the behaviour of another child attending school. A group of work colleagues who are gym members can influence a fellow worker to become a gym member. 

Question: Why are people influenced by others?

Answer: One reason why people are influenced by others behaviour is because of uncertainty of how to behave. The individual might believe that a group of people or minority are well informed about a particular topic (what is known as Informational Social Influence). The individual will adopt the new behaviour and conform to match the behaviour of the group or individual, because they believe the group or individual is better informed. 

In the case of Brenda (See: below) it is possible that Brenda might believe that her friends have knowledge that salad is not a good choice during winter. 


“Brenda is first in the queue for lunch and she decides to have a salad. Brenda’s friends join the queue and chose sandwiches for lunch. After seeing this Brenda decides to have a sandwich instead of a salad”. Now, the question is why did Brenda have a change of mind and decided not to have a salad after noticing that all her friends had chosen sandwiches. Social Influence would suggest that Brenda is unsure about her own judgement about what to eat at lunchtime and so she accepts the action of her friends. If the friendship was recently formed it is possible that Brenda is still seeking approval and acceptance from her new friends and therefore not wanting to be the odd one out Brenda decides not to have a salad but instead to join her friends and choose sandwich for lunch. 

How the presence of others can have an impact on our choice of food might seem to be a trivial example, but if we can be so easily influenced in regard to our taste and preference, being influenced might become the norm and impact on more serious issues. 


This page contains an Amazon affiliate link for students (Prime Student). If you purchase a product through the link I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Amazon Prime Student Link:

Prime Student Benefits: Textbooks, Fashion, Shoes, Accessories, Essential Stationery and other University/School Essentials

It has truly been a pleasure to have had you as my psychology teacher. I do not think I would have understood half of what we learnt otherwise. THANK YOU for being so supportive and encouraging and for making Wednesday mornings unexpectedly amusing at times.

© Studycoach     07944 849271     Privacy Policy