Social Impact Theory

Version:1 / 1    Updated Date:09/17/2015    Original Contributor:Barry    Latest Contributor:Barry
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Key Words
Social Relations, Individuals

Background / Metatheory:

From birth to death, every one of us is affected in our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors by the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of those with whom we come into contact. We exist in a web of social relations, and you can think of that web as resembling a force-field in physics. All else being equal, the effect of a stronger force is greater than the effect of a weaker force. Also, the effect of multiple forces pulling or pushing in the same direction is greater than the effect of any individual force. To understand and predict the social impact that people have on one another, we need to explain how one individual affects another, and how the effects of multiple individuals can add up.

Terms & Definitions:
  • impediment - any condition that inhibits or blocks the action or N, S, and/or I.
  • salient - something of which an actor is aware, and to which s/he attaches some degree of importance
  • social_impact - any psychological or behavior change in an actor with respect to an issue that results from the real or imagined presence or behavior of other actors
  • source - actors generating social impact
  • target - actor on which social impact operates
  • immediacy_(i) - the closeness in space or time or source to an actor
  • number_(n) - the number of sources in a situation
  • strength_(s) - the salience, power, importance, intensity, or status of a source

Scope Conditions:
  1. There is an issue that is salient to the target.
  2. One or more sources differ from the target on the issue.
  1. The greater the N, S, and/or I, the greater the social_impact.
  2. The greater the impediment, the less the social_impact.
  3. The greater the social_impact, the greater the target's change towards the source's position.
  4. N's effect diminishes marginally.