Social influence is pervasive.

Social influence is pervasive. Understanding mechanisms by which our own behavior is influenced can help us intentionally shape the behavior of others.  In this discussion, we will consider various forms of social influence by creating an intervention designed to address a particular concern in one of many real world settings.

To inform your thinking on this topic, begin by reading “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion” (Cialdini, 2001), “Social Influence: Compliance and Conformity” (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004), “Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance” (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959), “Behavioral Study of Obedience” (Milgram, 1963), and “Attribution Versus Persuasion as a Means for Modifying Behavior” (Miller, Brickman, & Bolen, 1975).

Then, imagine yourself as a consultant in one of the following scenarios.  You are responsible for developing a plan to modify behavior, which will be based on social psychological insight.  Select one of the following options and design a program, supporting your answer with scholarly and peer-reviewed sources. Explain to the individual in the scenario, in layperson’s terms, relevant theory and research that addresses the social psychological variables involved.  Summarize a clear intervention strategy, formulating advice regarding future behavior.

  • A business executive seeks assistance in creating a      comprehensive plan to market a product. [You may choose the product.]
  • A lawyer is requesting insight regarding jury behavior      in order to achieve more favorable trial outcomes.
  • A prominent member of the community is considering a      run for political office and would like advice regarding successful      campaign strategies.
  • A doctor is concerned about rising rates of illness due      to personal behavior and wishes to provide appropriate counsel to patients      in order to change behavior for the better. [You may specify the type of      illness or behaviors, as necessary.]
  • A substance abuse counselor is alarmed by recent      statistics on drug and alcohol use amongst younger and younger children      and would like to design a targeted program to address this issue.
  • Other (as provided/approved by your instructor)
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