Evaluating social influence and social change


Evaluating social influence and social change


  • Research supporting normative influences - Nolan wanted to see if people could reduce their energy intake, and gave out signs for doors in San Diego. One group were given signs saying they were reducing their intake, whereas the other group were given signs saying to save energy. The first group had a significant decrease in energy use. This shows that NSI can be used to create social change.
  • Minority influence supports social change - Nemeth claimed social change was due to engagement with minority view. The wider society critically evaluate minority viewpoints and leads to better decision making. This shows dissenting minorities as important.


  • Countering NSI research - Foxcroft studied drinking patterns similarly to Nolan. Only few participants reduced their drinking quantity but did not reduce frequency. This study shows that NSI may not cause long term changes to behaviour.
  • Role of deeper processing - Mackie does not agree that minority influence converts individuals to that view, and that majority influence creates deeper processing when you disagree with their views. This means that a central part of minority influence is challenged and reduces its validity of causing social change.
  • Barriers to social change - Bashir found that participants did not want to be associated with stereotypical minority groups, such as environmentalists. This reduces minority influence.


Overall social change can be made as a result of social influence (especially NSI), and through minority influence. However there are both strengths and weaknesses to this. 


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