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Number 34 (2015)

Nowak, A., et al. (2015). Social influence from the 'object of impact' perspective - theory and a simulation model

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Andrzej Nowak
Instytut Studiów Społecznych im. prof. B. Zajonca, Uniwersytet Warszawski
Karolina Ziembowicz
Wydział Psychologii, Uniwersytet Warszawski
Agata Zabłocka-Bursa
Wydział Psychologii, SWPS, Uniwersytet Humanistycznospołeczny
Wiesław Bartkowski
Wydział Psychologii, SWPS, Uniwersytet Humanistycznospołeczny

Traditionally, the main goal of social influence research is defining the conditions in which people are willing to change their behavior or internal state in response to external information or imposed standards. The leading approach to study social impact concentrates on benefits of a person who is exerting influence (the source of impact), and who uses power to manipulate the behavior or attitudes of others (see Doliński, 2005). In this article, we propose to adopt the perspective of a person on whom the influence is exerted (the object of impact). In this respect, being subject to social influence may be desired and actively sought by individuals who observe other people and ask for information or opinions in order to be influenced by them. Being an object of social impact allows them to use knowledge of the sources of influence in order to optimize their own functioning. In this sense, social impact enhances the functioning of the individual, and indirectly – the group as a whole. In this article we review existing theories that focus on the aspect of 'object of impact’ and present a Dynamic Optimizing Impact model (DOI), which is an extension of the Dynamical Social Impact Theory (Nowak, Szamrej and Latané, 1990). In the model, social groups are depicted as networks with a mechanism regulating strength of relationships between individuals – trust. With time, the connections grow stronger when the sources of impact prove to provide accurate information and become weaker when they prove to be incorrect. Through the mechanism of relationship change, members of the social group begin to base their judgments and decisions on information from valuable sources, which increases the value of their own opinions. Optimization at the individual level translates into optimization of group-level performance by creating a socially shared reality, a base for collective action. Computer simulations of the proposed model confirm the described mechanism of social influence.
Keywords:social impact, DSIT – Dynamical Social Impact Theory, DOI – Dynamical Optimization Impact model, object of impact, computer simulations

Cite this article as:

Nowak, A., et al. (2015). Social influence from the 'object of impact' perspective - theory and a simulation model.Psychologia Społeczna, 34, 296-309. doi: 10.7366/1896180020153404
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