Social Facilitation Theory



SOCIAL IMPACT, LAW OF. The American social psychologist Bibb Latane (1937- ) formulated the law of social impact that is designed to explain various social influence effects, including the phenomena of conformity, compliance, obedience, and persuasion. The law may be expressed, simply, by the equation: M = f (SIN), where M is the magnitude of the impact, f indicates a function, S is the strength (e.g., credibility) of the influence source(s), I is the immediacy (e.g., "face-to-face" versus "distant") of the influence sour-ce(s), and N is the number of influence sources. Thus, in formal terms, the law of social impact is characterized as a "multiplicative model" where if any of the variables (S, I, or N) has a zero value/number, the resultant magnitude of the impact becomes zero [cf., minority social influence - studied by the Romanian-born French social psychologist Serge Moscovici (1920- ), refers to situations in which the deviant/minority subgroup rejects the established majority group norm, and persuades the majority to go over to the minority attitudes/opinions/beliefs or behaviors and, thereby, changes the existing norm; in this approach, the conflict caused by minorities is believed to be a force for innovation and suggests that minorities are most effective when they are consistent, and in concordance, with the group's underlying values]. In the social-influence phenomenon of obedience [cf., the "shock" and "prison" experiments, respectively, by the American social psychologists Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) and Philip G. Zimbardo (1933- )], the individual yields to explicit instructions/orders from some perceived authority figure [cf., Eichmann ef-fect -named after the evil/notorious Nazi extermination camp chief Otto Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962), who slavishly followed Adolph Hitler's orders during World War II; this concept/effect, when applied to laboratory studies, emphasizes the fact that even in normal or peaceful times, an ordinary person may be willing to commit atrocities (one would not normally commit) when one sees oneself merely as an "instrument," not the "source," of some higher authority; cf., also, the Lt. William Calley court-martial case regarding the My Lai massacre of innocent civilians on March 16, 1968 during the Vietnam War, where Calley was merely "following orders;" and the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse scandal, involving the abuse of war prisoners by American soldiers/guards, in Iraq in 2004]. See also ALLPORT'S CONFORMITY HYPOTHESIS; ASCH'S CONFORMITY EFFECT; ATTITUDE/ATTITUDE CHANGE, THEORIES OF; BYSTANDER INTERVENTION EFFECT; COMPLIANCE EFFECTS/TECHNIQUES; DEINDIVIDUATION THEORY; PERSUASION/INFLUENCE THEORIES. REFERENCES

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-378. Arendt, H. (1964). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil. New York: McGraw-Hill. Zimbardo, P. G., Haney, C., & Banks, C.

(1972). A study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison. Naval Research Reviews, 9, 1-17. Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York: Harper & Row.

Zimbardo, P. G. (1974). The psychology of imprisonment: Privation, power, and pathology. In Z. Rubin (Ed.), Doing unto others: Explorations in social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Moscovici, S. (1976). Social influence and social change. London: Academic Press.

Latane, B. (1981). The psychology of social impact. American Psychologist, 36, 343-356.

Latane, B., & Wolf, S. (1981). The social impact of majorities and minorities. Psychological Review, 88, 738-753. Nowak, A., Szamrej, J., & Latane, B. (1990).

From private attitude to public opinion: A dynamic theory of social impact. Psychological Review, 97, 362-376.


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