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Social Influence? Ultimate tool to impose our opinions!

27 Jun
Published by gruti
social influence

As much it could be deemed to be a new thing, the theory of “social influence” has a long history. We can trace back the initial formulation of the theory to the Aristotle’s Rhetoric where the philosopher pointed out the importance of competing successfully in arguments in order to “impose” on the others his own view establishing in that way himself as a commonly accepted influencer in the “polis”. In much more recent days the theory was used, developed and taken to all new level during WWII by Carl Hovland , a psychologist at Yale University, who was employed by the U.S. Armed Forces in order to boost the morale of the frontline troops. The President of U.S. at the time of the war, Roosevelt, was concerned that the army would not have the sufficient will power to fight with the due intensity in a conflict which would last for many years. Since the usual tools used to boost morale such as shows, mail services and radio broadcasted motivational talks proved to be effective only for a limited amount of time, it was necessary to device something which would generate long lasting effects.

What Hovland and his team discovered was that any information or argument communicated to a large number of people which express a single message has a much smaller effect on the listeners that another argument which has two-sided controversial argument. The intent is always the same which is to “IMPOSE” our view on the others, but the tool of presenting on the surface a balanced argument proves to be very effective in leaving a long lasting effect on people. In that moment was born the mass communication as we know it today.

In the last few years the advent of the social networks has changed the landscape of communication as, almost anyone, has the opportunity (but unfortunately not very often the ability) to mass communicate anything he/she wants. Very often the entries on the blogs or social media are presenting only one sided stories which most likely are expressing solely the view of the author. So if the Theory of “social Influence” by Hovland which states that in order to IMPOSE your argument one should always present a two-sided controversial story is true, and if what I just said about the one-sided nature of mass communication on the social media is true as well, we must conclude that the vast public of readers or listeners has today less imposed arguments upon them. IS THIS BAD?

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