Loosely Organized Source Material for the Manipulator Archetype  

This page contains source material related to the manipulator archetype.

The great thing about absurd logic is that it fits any situation.       — Dilbert, 1995 Sep 24

from the Wikipedia page on psychological manipulation :

Requirements for successful manipulation

According to Simon [37], successful psychological manipulation primarily involves:

Consequently the manipulation is likely to be covert (relational aggressive or passive agressive).

How manipulators control their victims

Braiker [39] identified the following basic ways that manipulators control their victims:

Simon[1] identified the following manipulative techniques:

Vulnerabilities exploited by manipulators

According to Braiker[2], manipulators exploit the following vulnerabilities (buttons) that may exist in victims:

According to Simon[1], manipulators exploit the following vulnerabilities that may exist in victims:

Manipulators generally take the time to scope out the characteristics and vulnerabilities of their victim.

According to Kantor [42], the following attributes render people vulnerable to psychopathic manipulators:

Motivations of manipulators

Manipulators have three possible motivations:[2]

They have a "hidden agenda" to achieve their secret objectives.

Psychological conditions of manipulators

Manipulators may have any of the following psychological conditions:[2]

Basic manipulative strategy of a psychopath

According to Hare and Babiak [41], psychopaths are always on the lookout for individuals to scam or swindle. The psychopathic approach includes three phases:

1: Assessment phase

Some psychopaths are opportunistic, aggressive predators who will take advantage of almost anyone they meet, while others are more patient, waiting for the perfect, innocent victim to cross their path. In each case, the psychopath is constantly sizing up the potential usefulness of an individual as a source of money, power, sex or influence. Some psychopaths enjoy a challenge while others prey on people who are vulnerable. During the assessment phase, the psychopath is able to determine a potential victim's weak points and will use those weak points to seduce.

2: Manipulation phase

Once the psychopath has identified a victim, the manipulation phase begins. During the manipulation phase, a psychopath may create a persona or mask, specifically designed to 'work' for his or her target. A psychopath will lie to gain the trust of their victim. A psychopath's lack of empathy and guilt allows them to lie with ease - they don't see the value of telling the truth unless it will help get them what they want.

As interaction with the victim proceeds, the psychopath carefully assesses the victim's persona. The victim's persona gives the psychopath a picture of the traits and characteristics valued in the victim. The victim's persona may also reveal, to an astute observer, insecurities or weaknesses the victim wishes to minimize or hide from view. As an ardent student of human behavior, the psychopath will then gently test the inner strengths and needs that are part of the victim's private self and eventually build a personal relationship with the victim.

The persona of the psychopath - the "personality" the victim is bonding with - does not really exist. It was built on lies, carefully woven together to entrap the victim. It is a mask, one of many, custom-made by the psychopath to fit the victim's particular psychological needs and expectations. The victimization is predatory in nature; it often leads to severe financial, physical or emotional harm for the individual. Healthy, real relationships are built on mutual respect and trust; they are based on sharing honest thoughts and feelings. The mistaken belief that the psychopathic bond has any of these characteristics is the reason it is so successful.

3: Abandonment phase

The abandonment phase begins when the psychopath decides that their victim is no longer useful. They abandon their vicim and move on to someone else. In the case of romantic relationshps, a psychopath will usually seal a relationship with their next target before abandoning their current victim. Abandonment can happen quickly and can occur without the current victim knowing that the psychopath was looking for someone new. There will be no apologies for the hurt and pain they cause because psychopaths do not appreciate these emotions.

from the Wikipedia page on Social influence :

Social influence occurs when an individual's thoughts or actions are affected by other people. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing. Harvard psychologist, Herbert Kelman identified three broad varieties of social influence.32

1. Compliance is when people appear to agree with others, but actually keep their dissenting opinions private.

2. Identification is when people are influenced by someone who is liked and respected, such as a famous celebrity or a favorite uncle.

3. Internalization is when people accept a belief or behavior and agree both publicly and privately.

Morton Deutsch and Harold Gerard described two psychological needs that lead humans to conform to the expectations of others. These include our need to be right (informational social influence), and our need to be liked (normative social influence).[36] Informational influence is an influence to accept information from another as evidence about reality. Informational influence comes into play when people are uncertain, either because stimuli are intrinsically ambiguous or because there is social disagreement. Normative influence is an influence to conform to the positive expectations of others. In terms of Kelman's typology, normative influence leads to public compliance, whereas informational influence leads to private acceptance.



Social influence can also be described as power - the ability to influence a person/group of people to one's own will. Usually people who possess beauty, significant sums of money, good jobs and so on will possess social influence on other, "ordinary" people. So even if the person doesn't possess any "real" or political power but possesses the things listed above (good looks, money, etc.), they could persuade other people into doing something. However, good looks are not solely why attractive people are able to exert more influence than average looking people, e.g. confidence is the by-product of good looks. Therefore, the individual's self-esteem and perceived Persona is the critical factor in determining the amount of influence one exerts.


Those perceived as experts may exert social influence as a result of their perceived expertise. This involves credibility, a form of social influence from which one draws upon the notion of trust. People believe an individual to be credible for a variety of reasons, such as perceived experience, attractiveness, etc. Additionally, pressure to maintain one's reputation and not be viewed as fringe may increase the tendency to agree with the group, known as groupthink.[46]

Bully pulpit

Those with access to the media may use this access in an attempt to influence the public. For example, a politician may use speeches to persuade the public to support issues that they do not have the power to impose on the public. This is often referred to as using the "bully pulpit".

Another example would be movie stars, who do not usually possess any political power but are familiar to many of the world's citizens and therefore possess social status. They get a lot of media coverage and they have many enthusiastic fans.

Peer pressure

In the case of peer pressure, a person is convinced to do something (such as illegal drugs) which they might not want to do, but which they perceive as "necessary" to keep a positive relationship with other people, such as their friends.


In 2009, a study concluded that fear increases the chance of agreeing with the group, while romance or lust increases the chance of going against the group. When love strikes in a group the two who are together feel like they have to make their own stand and that is what mainly causes them to disagree.[45]

Social trends

In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the way new ideas are transmitted by social influence. New products or fashions are introduced by innovators, who tend to be creative and nonconforming. Then early adopters join in, followed by the early majority. By this time, a substantial number of people are using the idea or product, and normative and informational influence encourages others to conform as well. The early majority is followed by a second group that Gladwell calls the late majority, and then finally by the laggards, who tend to be highly conventional and resistant to change.[38]

Social Structure

There are varying social structures within online communities that determine the interaction between influencer and follower.[47] The following are classifications of social structures in which influencers operate:

Pyramid — Reciprocity is not the primary objective in a pyramid-shaped social structure. Typically users have a passive relationship with one another. Often cited as a prime example of this social structure is Twitter. Influencers such as CNN and the NY Times garner millions of followers. It is these followers that provide the support structure for the influencers (the capstone to the pyramid). The more followers a user has, the larger their pyramid stands.

Circular — The central element in a circular social structure is reciprocity. Consider the analogy to Ring Around the Rosie. Users can identify and communicate with everyone in their immediate circle. Facebook is an often-cited example of a circular social structure. Where Twitter you might follow 300 brands, typically Facebook users befriend only a select number of people or brands.

Hybrid — This social structure combines the circular and pyramid-shaped community framework. Users will form micro-communities based on particular websites or topics. Digg is an example of a hybrid social structure. Within a category, there will emerge a tight group of influencers that band together to promote content.

from the Wikipedia page on Peer pressure :

Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is "formally" a member (for example, political party, trade union), or a social clique. A person affected by peer pressure may or may not want to belong to these groups. They may also recognize dissociative groups with which they would not wish to associate, and thus they behave adversely concerning that group's behaviors. Peer pressure can cause people to do things they would not normally do, e.g. take drugs, smoke, get a girlfriend, marry, have a job, get children, buy expensive items they don't really need (cars, houses, boats), etc.

In Young People

Youth peer pressure is one of the most frequently referred to forms of negative peer pressure. It is particularly common because most young people spend large amounts of time in fixed groups (schools and subgroups within them) regardless of their opinion of those groups. In addition to this, they may lack the maturity to handle pressure from 'friends'. Also, young people are more willing to behave negatively towards those who are not members of their own peer groups. However, youth peer pressure can also have positive effects. For example, if one is involved with a group of people that are ambitious and working to succeed, one might feel pressured to follow suit to avoid feeling excluded from the group. Therefore, the youth would be pressured into improving themselves, bettering them in the long run. This is most commonly seen in youths that are active in sports or other extracurricular activities.

Risk Behavior

Most people expect that socially accepted children fare the best in high school. It is expected that people who are considered popular will have the most resources, the most opportunities and the most positive experiences. Most times this is true, but research shows that being in the popular crowd may also be a risk factor for mild to moderate deviant behavior. Popular adolescents are the most socialized into their peer groups and thus are vulnerable to peer pressures, such as behaviors usually reserved for those of a greater maturity and understanding, such as the use of drugs. Adolescence is a time of experimentation with new identities and experiences. The culture of high school often has its own social norms that are different from the outside culture. Some of these norms may not be especially positive or beneficial. Socially accepted kids are often accepted for the sheer fact that they conform well to the norms of teen culture, good and bad aspects included. Popular adolescents are more strongly associated with their peer groups in which they may together experiment with things like alcohol and drugs. Although there are a few risk factors correlated with popularity, deviant behavior is often only mild to moderate. Regardless, social acceptance provides more overall protective factors than risk factors.[40]

Benign peer pressure


In management, benign peer pressure refers to a technique used to boost team members' motivation, proactiveness and self goal setting. It's one useful tool in leadership. Instead of direct delegation of tasks and results demanding, employees are in this case, induced into a behaviour of self propelled performance and innovation, by comparison feelings towards their peers. There are several ways peer pressure can be induced in a working environment. Examples are: training, team meetings, ...

Training is one example of external peers pressure, since the team member is in contact with people with comparable roles in other organizations.

Team meetings is one example of internal peers pressure, since there will be an implicit comparison between every team member especially if the meeting agenda is the presentation of results and goal status.[44]


In school, benign peer pressure refers to the achieving of school discipline and internal self-discipline (inner discipline within each individual) by democratic means. It is adduced that appropriate school learning theory and educational philosophy is decisive in preventing violence, and promoting learning, order, and discipline in schools. Children should be accorded the same human rights and freedoms as adults; they should be granted responsibility for the conduct of their affairs; and they should be full participants in the life of their community. Children of all ages are entitled to participate in all decisions affecting the school, without exception. They have a full and equal vote in deciding expenditures, in hiring and firing all employees (including teachers), and in making and enforcing the rules of the community. Typically, rules are made and business is handled at a weekly School Meeting, where each student, like each staff member, has one vote: freedom on individual rights' matters and peer justice.

Neural mechanisms

Neuroimaging identifies the anterior insula and anterior cingulate as key areas in the brain determining whether people conform in their preferences in regard to its being popular with their peer group.

from the Wikipedia page on Robert Cialdini :

Born April 27, 1945 (1945-04-27) (age 64)

Robert B. Cialdini was the Regents' Professor of Psychology and W.P. Carey Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Arizona State University where he has also been named Distinguished Graduate Research Professor. He retired from academia in May of 2009.

His books Influence is the result of years of study into the reasons that people comply with requests in business and other settings and has sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into twenty-six languages. They consistently rank among the top selling books on Amazon.com. Influence has been listed on the New York Times Business Best Seller List. Fortune Magazine lists Influence in their "75 Smartest Business Books."


Dr Robert Cialdini is best known for his popular book on persuasion and marketing, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (ISBN 0-688-12816-5). His book has also been published as a textbook under the title Influence: Science and Practice (ISBN 0-321-01147-3). In writing the book, he spent three years going "undercover" applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, telemarketing firms and the like, observing real-life situations of persuasion. The book also reviews many of the most important theories and experiments in social psychology. Harvard Business Review lists Dr. Cialdini's research in "Breakthrough Ideas for Today's Business Agenda".


His most recent work, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive ISBN 978-184668-016-8 co-authored with Dr. Noah Goldstein and Steve J. Martin is a collection of chapters providing insights on how to apply the science of persuasion to be more effective at influencing others at work and in personal situations. Yes! is a New York Times, USA Today, & Wall Street Journal Best Seller.

Six "Weapons of Influence"

Cialdini defines six "weapons of influence":

from the Wikipedia page on Love bombing :

Love bombing is the deliberate show of affection or friendship by an individual or a group of people toward another individual. Critics have asserted that this action may be motivated in part by the desire to recruit, convert or otherwise influence.

As of 2005, the phrase can be used in two slightly different ways.

The history of the term

The term was used within, and is often associated with, the Unification Church, especially the San Francisco Bay area church known as the "Oakland family." In 1999 testimony to the Maryland Cult Task Force, Ronald Loomis, Director of Education for the International Cultic Studies Association, reflecting his belief that the term was not invented by critics, asserted: "We did not make up this term. The term 'love bombing' originated with the Unification Church, the Moonies. It's their term. Another group that's active on many Maryland campuses, the International Churches of Christ, also uses that term."1

Though the term was already widely used by the media at the time, the Unification Church used it at least as early as 1978. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, used the term "love bomb" in a July 23, 1978 speech (translated):

"Unification Church members are smiling all of the time, even at four in the morning. The man who is full of love must live that way. When you go out witnessing you can caress the wall and say that it can expect you to witness well and be smiling when you return. What face could better represent love than a smiling face? This is why we talk about love bomb; Moonies have that kind of happy problem."2

Former members of the Children of God, including Deborah Davis, daughter of the founder of the Children of God,3 and Kristina Jones, daughter of an early member,4 have used the term in describing the early days of the organization.

Criticism of love bombing and response

Critics of cults often cite love bombing as one of the features that may identify an organization as a cult. When used by critics, the phrase is defined to mean affection that is feigned or with an ulterior motive and that is used to reduce the subject's resistance to recruitment.5

The term was popularized by psychology professor Margaret Singer, who has become closely identified with the love-bombing-as-brainwashing point of view.6 In her 1996 book, Cults in Our Midst, she described the technique:

"As soon as any interest is shown by the recruits, they may be love bombed by the recruiter or other cult members. This process of feigning friendship and interest in the recruit was originally associated with one of the early youth cults, but soon it was taken up by a number of groups as part of their program for luring people in. Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members' flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love bombing - or the offer of instant companionship - is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives."7

The Unification Church rejects this view of its practice. Church leader Damian Anderson has written:

"One man's love-bombing is another man's being showered with attention. Everyone likes such care and attention, so it is unfortunate that when we love as Jesus taught us to love, that we are then accused of having ulterior motives."8

Steven Hassan and Keith Henson are among the other cult critics to write about love bombing. 9

Dr. Geri-Ann Galanti (in a sympathetic article) writes: "A basic human need is for self-esteem.... Basically [love bombing] consists of giving someone a lot of positive attention."10

Short film

Recently, a short seven-minute film titled Love Bombing 11 was produced around the theme of cult seduction. In it, three characters love bomb another character and toast to his imminent demise via peer pressure and a poisoned toast.

References for Love Bombing article:

1 : "1999 Testimony of Ronald N. Loomis to the Maryland Cult Task Force". http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/cultsect/mdtaskforce/loomis_testimony.htm.

2 : "Sun Myung Moon (1978) "We Who Have Been Called To Do God's Work" Speech in London, England". http://www.unification.net/1978/780723.html.

3 : "The Children of God: The Inside Story". http://www.exfamily.org/art/exmem/debdavis/debdavis07.shtml. Term used in memoir about the 1970s Texas Soul Clinic, predecessor of the Children of God.

4 : "Eyewitness: Why people join cults". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/688317.stm. Term used by Kristina Jones in recollections of her mother, an early Children of God

5 : Building Resistance: Tactics for Counteracting Manipulation and Unethical Hypnosis in Totalistic Groups When people perceive that someone likes them or cares about them, they listen less critically to what is told to them and are also less apt to think negatively about the communicator.

6 : Richardson, James T. (2004). Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe. Springer. ISBN 0306478870. p. 479

7 : Singer, Margaret (1996; 2003) Cults in Our Midst. Revised edition, 2003. Wiley. ISBN 0-7879-6741-6

8 : "Damian Anderson (1996) "Responses to Questions on Unificationism on the Internet — Volume 20". http://www.unification.net/faq/uniffaq20.html.

9 : From Sex, Drugs, and Cults. An evolutionary psychology perspective on why and how cult memes get a drug-like hold on people, and what might be done to mitigate the effects, The Human Nature Review, 2002 Volume 2: 343-355.

10 : Langone, Michael, Recovery from Cults, Chapter 3 — Reflections on "Brainwashing", Geri-Ann Galanti

11 : "Love Bombing (film)". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1311656/.

from the Wikipedia page on Milieu control :

Milieu control is a neologism for the control of environment and human communication through the use of social pressure and group language that may include dogma, protocols, innuendo, slang, and pronunciation, which enables group members to identify other members, or to promote cognitive changes in individuals.


Milieu control involves the control of communication within a group environment, that also may (or may not) result in a significant degree of isolation from surrounding society.[1] When non-group members, or outsiders, are considered or potentially labeled as less valuable without basis for stated group-supported and group-reinforced prejudice, group members may have a tendency to then consider themselves as intellectually superior, which can limit alternate points of view, thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy in which group members automatically begin to devalue others and the intellect of others that are separate from their group, without logical rationale for doing so.21

Additionally, Milieu control "includes other techniques to restrict members' contact with the outside world and to be able to make critical, rational, judgments about information." 21

Proponents of such methods claim that group solidarity and preference compared to "outsiders" unifies a subculture into a community.

Critics claim that this isolates people from their society and family, and that engaging in shared cult-like behaviors and actions within a group can have a tendency to limit human cognition amongst those group members. In this respect, intentional actors whom actively engage in stated milieu controlling behaviors begin to habituate those distinctly abnormal behaviors as normative, which then become ingrained into their subsequent behavior patterns through the use of frequent repetition.

References for Milieu Control article:

21 : A Bandura. 1982. The psychology of chance encounters and life paths. American Psychologist, Vol. 37 No. 7, July 1982

22 : Dr. Lifton, Robert J.Thought Reform: Milieu Control. Retrieved on August 24, 2008. www.ferozegolwalla.com.

External links

from the Wikipedia page on Conformity :

Conformity is to go along with what everyone else does, it is the process by which an individual's attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are influenced by other people. This influence occurs in both small groups and society as a whole, and it may be the result of subtle unconscious influences, or direct and overt social pressure. Conformity also occurs by the "implied presence" of others, or when other people are not actually present. For example, people tend to follow the norms of society when eating or watching television, even when they are at home by themselves.

People often conform from a desire to achieve a sense of security within a group--typically a group that is of a similar age, culture, religion, or educational status. Any unwillingness to conform carries with it the very real risk of social rejection. In this respect, conformity can be seen as a safe means of avoiding bullying or deflecting criticism from peers. Conformity is often associated with adolescence and youth culture, but it affects humans of all ages.

Although peer pressure may be viewed as a negative trait, conformity can have either good or bad effects depending on the situation. Peer pressure leading to drug or alcohol abuse is harmful, but driving safely on the correct side of the road is a beneficial example of conformity. Conformity influences the formation and maintenance of social norms and allows society to function smoothly and predictably.

Because conformity is a group phenomenon, such factors as group size, unanimity, cohesion, status, prior commitment, and public opinion all help to determine the level of conformity an individual will display.31


Harvard psychologist, Herbert Kelman identified three major types of social influence:32

1. Compliance is public conformity, while keeping one's own private beliefs. 2. Identification is conforming to someone who is liked and respected, such as a celebrity or a favorite uncle.

3. Internalization is acceptance of the belief or behavior and conforming both publicly and privately.

Although Kelman's distinction has been very influential, research in social psychology has focused primarily on two main varieties of conformity. These are informational conformity, or informational social influence, and normative conformity, otherwise known as normative social influence.33 Using Kelman's terminology, these correspond to internalization and compliance, respectively. There are naturally more than two or three variables in society influential on human psychology and conformity; the notion of "varieties" of conformity based upon "social influence" is ambiguous and undefinable in this context.

Informational influence

Informational social influence occurs when one turns to the members of one's group to obtain accurate information. A person is most likely to use informational social influence in three situations: When a situation is ambiguous, people become uncertain about what to do. They are more likely to depend on others for the answer. During a crisis immediate action is necessary, in spite of panic. Looking to other people can help ease fears, but unfortunately they are not always right. The more knowledgeable a person is, the more valuable they are as a resource. Thus people often turn to experts for help. But once again people must be careful, as experts can make mistakes too. Informational social influence often results in internalization or private acceptance, where a person genuinely believes that the information is right.

Informational social influence was first documented in Muzafer Sherif's autokinetic experiment.34 He was interested in how many people change their opinions to bring them in line with the opinion of a group. Participants were placed in a dark room and asked to stare at a small dot of light 15 feet away. They were then asked to estimate the amount it moved. The trick was there was no movement, it was caused by a visual illusion known as the autokinetic effect. Every person perceived different amounts of movement. Over time, the same estimate was agreed on and others conformed to it. Sherif suggested that this was a simulation for how social norms develop in a society, providing a common frame of reference for people.

Subsequent experiments were based on more realistic situations. In an eyewitness identification task, participants were shown a suspect individually and then in a lineup of other suspects. They were given one second to identify him, making it a difficult task. One group was told that their input was very important and would be used by the legal community. To the other it was simply a trial. Being more motivated to get the right answer increased the tendency to conform. Those who wanted to be most accurate conformed 51% of the time as opposed to 35% in the other group.35

Which line matches the first line, A, B, or C? In the Asch conformity experiments, people frequently followed the majority judgment, even when the majority was wrong.

Economists have suggested that fads and trends in society form as the result of individuals making rational choices based on information received from others. These informational cascades form quickly as people decide to ignore their internal signals and go along with what other people are doing.36 Cascades are also presumed to be fragile because people are aware that they are based on limited information. This is why fads often end as quickly as they begin.

Normative influence

Normative social influence occurs when one conforms to be liked or accepted by the members of the group. It usually results in public compliance, doing or saying something without believing in it. Solomon E. Asch was the first psychologist to study this phenomenon in the laboratory. He conducted a modification of Sherif's study, assuming that when the situation was very clear, conformity would be drastically reduced. He exposed people in a group to a series of lines, and the participants were asked to match one line with a standard line. All participants except one were secretly told to give the wrong answer in 12 of the 18 trials. The results showed a surprisingly high degree of conformity. 76% of the participants conformed on at least one trial. On average people conformed one third of the time.37

However, in a reinterpretation of the original data from these experiments Hodges and Geyer (2006)37 found that Asch's subjects where not so conformist after all:

The experiments provide powerful evidence for people's tendency to tell the truth even when others do not. They also provide compelling evidence of people's concern for others and their views.38

By closely examining the situation in which Asch's subjects find themselves they find that

the situation places multiple demands on participants: They include truth (i.e., expressing one's own view accurately), trust (i.e., taking seriously the value of others' claims), and social solidarity (i.e., a commitment to integrate the views of self and others without deprecating either). In addition to these epistemic values, there are multiple moral claims as well: These include the need for participants to care for the integrity and well-being of other participants, the experimenter, themselves, and the worth of scientific research.

Normative influence is a function of social impact theory which has three components.38 The number of people in the group has a surprising effect. As the number increases, each person has less of an impact. A group's strength is how important the group is to a person. Groups we value generally have more social influence. Immediacy is how close the group is in time and space when the influence is taking place. Psychologists have constructed a mathematical model using these three factors and are able to predict the amount of conformity that occurs with some degree of accuracy.39

Baron and his colleagues conducted a second "eyewitness study", this time focusing on normative influence.40 In this version, the task was made easier. Each participant was given five seconds to look at a slide, instead of just one second. Once again there were both high and low motives to be accurate, but the results were the reverse of the first study. The low motivation group conformed 33% of the time (similar to Asch's findings). The high motivation group conformed less at 16%. These results show that when accuracy is not very important, it is better to get the wrong answer than to risk social disapproval.

An experiment using procedures similar to Asch's found that there was significantly less conformity in six-person groups of friends as compared to six-person groups of strangers.41 Because friends already know and accept each other, there may be less normative pressure to conform in some situations. Field studies on cigarette and alcohol abuse, however, generally demonstrate evidence of friends exerting normative social influence on each other.42

Minority influence

Although conformity generally leads individuals to think and act more like groups, individuals are occasionally able to reverse this tendency and change the people around them. This is known as minority influence, a special case of informational influence. Minority influence is most likely when people are able to make a clear and consistent case for their point of view. If the minority fluctuates and shows uncertainty, the chance of influence is small. However, if the minority makes a strong, convincing case, it will increase the probability of changing the beliefs and behavior of the majority.43 Minority members who are perceived as experts, are high in status, or have benefited the group in the past are also more likely to succeed.

Another form of minority influence can sometimes override conformity effects and lead to unhealthy group dynamics. A recent[when?] review of two dozen studies found that a single "bad apple" (a lazy or inconsiderate group member) can substantially increase conflicts and reduce performance in work groups. Bad apples often create a negative emotional climate that interferes with healthy group functioning. They can be avoided by careful selection procedures and managed by reassigning them to positions that require less social interaction.44


Societal norms often establish gender differences. In general, this is the case for social conformity, as females are more likely to conform than males.46,[47],[48],[49].

There are differences in the way men and women conform to social influence. Social psychologists, Alice Eagly and Linda Carli performed a meta-analysis of 148 studies of influenceability. They found that women are more persuasible and more conforming than men in group pressure situations that involve surveillance. In situations not involving surveillance, women are less likely to conform.

In a study by Sistrunk and McDavid at a private university, a public junior college, and at a high school, overall, females were more susceptible to social pressures than males. In fact, females conformed more than males 3 out of 4 times when they were presented masculine questions. Males conformed more than females 2 out of 4 times when they were presented feminine questions.50

The composition of the group plays a role in conformity as well. In a study by Reitan and Shaw, it was found that men and women conformed more when there were participants of both sexes involved versus participants of the same sex. Subjects in the groups with both sexes were more apprehensive when there was a discrepancy amongst group members, and thus the subjects reported that they doubted their own judgments.49

Eagly has proposed that this sex difference may be due to different sex roles in society. Women are generally taught to be more agreeable whereas men are taught to be more independent.46

Normative social influence explains women's attempt to create the ideal body through dieting, and also by eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Men, in contrast, are likely to pursue their ideal body image through dieting, steroids, and overworking their bodies, rather than developing eating disorders. Both men and women probably learn what kind of body is considered attractive by their culture through the process of informational social influence.47


Neuroimaging identifies the anterior insula and anterior cingulate as key areas in the brain determining whether people conform in their preferences in regard to its being popular with their peer group.[48] This conformity effect of ones peer group upon is strongest during adolescence.[43]

References for Conformity article:

31 : Aronson, E., Wilson, T.D., & Akert, A.M. (2007). Social Psychology (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

32 : Kelman, H. (1958). Compliance, identification, and internalization: Three processes of attitude change. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 1, 51-60.

33 : Aronson, E., Wilson, T.D., & Akert, A.M. (2007). Social Psychology (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

34 : Sherif, M. (1936). The psychology of social norms. New York: Harper Collins.

35 : Baron, R. S., Vandello, J. A., & Brunsman, B. (1996). The forgotten variable in conformity research: Impact of task importance on social influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 915-927.

36 : Bikhchandani, S., Hirshleifer, D., and Welch, I. (1992), "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change as Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, Volume 100, Issue 5, pp. 992-1026.

37 : Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193, 31-35.

38 : Latane, B. (1981). The psychology of social impact. American Psychologist, 36, 343-365.

39 : Latane, B. & Bourgeois, M. J. (2001). Successfully simulating dynamic social impact: Three levels of prediction. In Forgas & Williams (Eds.), Social influence: Direct and indirect processes. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

40 : Baron, R. S., Vandello, J. A., & Brunsman, B. (1996). The forgotten variable in conformity research: Impact of task importance on social influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 915-927.

41 : McKelvey, W. & Kerr, N. H. (1988). Differences in conformity among friends and strangers. Psychological Reports, 62, 759-762.

42 : Urberg, K. A., Degirmencioglu, S. M. & Pilgrim, C. (1997). Close friend and group influence on adolescent cigarette smoking and alcohol use. Developmental Psychology, 33, 834-844.

43 : Moscovici, S., & Nemeth, C. (1974). Minority influence. In C. Nemeth (Ed.), Social psychology: Classic and contemporary integrations (pp. 217-249). Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

44 : Rotten To The Core: How Workplace 'Bad Apples' Spoil Barrels Of Good Employees, Science Daily, Feb. 13, 2007

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from the Wikipedia page on Social cohesion :

Social cohesion is a term used in social policy, sociology and political science to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena. It is associated with theories of sociological structural functionalism and political conservatism. It is sometimes also used as a euphemism for the state of race relations.

Social cohesion has become an important theme in British social policy in the period since the disturbances in Britain's Northern milltowns (Oldham, Bradford and Burnley) in the summer of 2001 (see Oldham riots, Bradford riots, Burnley riots). In investigating these, academic Ted Cantle drew heavily on the concept of social cohesion, and the New Labour government (particularly then Home Minister David Blunkett) in turn widely promoted the notion. As the Runnymede Trust noted in their "The Year of Cohesion" in 2003:

"If there has been a key word added to the Runnymede lexicon in 2002, it is cohesion. A year from publication of the report of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, the Cantle, Denham, Clarke, Ouseley and Ritchie reports moved cohesion to the forefront of the UK race debate."61

According to the government-commissioned,State of the English Cities thematic reports, there are five different dimensions of social cohesion: material conditions, passive relationships, active relationships, inclusion and equality.

Analysts at the credit rating agency Moody's have also introduced the possibility of adding social cohesion as a formal rating into their sovereign debt indices.62

References for Social Cohesion article:

61 : Berkeley, Rob (2003) (pdf), The Year of Cohesion, retrieved 03 February 2010

62 : Tett, Gillian, (January 8, 2010). "Future funding strategies could prove a test of patriotism". Financial Times. Retrieved January 12, 2010.


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[44] Salvador, Jos'e (2009). MBA CookBook.

[45] EurekAlert, Fear or romance could make you change your mind, U of Minnesota study finds (2009) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/ciot-csc032009.php

[46] New York Times, Ivory Tower Unswayed by Crashing Economy, 2009 March 5. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/books/05deba.html.

[47] Ethan Lyon (for sparxoo.com), Differing Approaches to Social Influence http://sparxoo.com/2009/10/01/differing-approaches-to-social-influence/

[48] Berns GS, Capra CM, Moore S, Noussair C. (2010). Neural mechanisms of the influence of popularity on adolescent ratings of music. Neuroimage. 49:2687–2696. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.10.070 PMID 19879365

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