Social influence or social pressure is the influence exerted by an individual, or by a group on each of its members, which results in the imposition of dominant norms of attitude and behavior. Emile Durkheim was the first sociologist to emphasize the force of the social on the individual.
This influence results in the modification of the behavior, attitudes, beliefs, opinions or feelings of an individual or group as a result of contact with another individual or group. To note such an influence effect, some relationship must exist between these entities. There are several types of social influences, called typologies of influence, such as conformity, innovation and submission to authority. There are also other phenomena that can be explained in terms of social influence, such as resistance, which is opposed to the preceding phenomena. Social influence covers a very broad field. The phenomena studied can be observed in everyday life.
The social norms
Social norms are defined as implicit or explicit rules that prescribe the appropriate behavior to adopt in society in specific situations. These norms are therefore an important source of influence because they prescribe to people how they should behave in order to avoid being categorized as “out of the norm”. The fear of being categorized as such creates a powerful form of influence that is found, for example, in conformity. Norms also regulate many different areas of daily life such as eating, leisure, personal space, time, interactions, etc. They vary not only culturally, but may also differ according to social status or gender. They vary not only culturally, but may also differ according to social status or gender.
This the type of social influence :
Social norms are influenced by culture and can therefore vary drastically from one country to another as well as touching on very diverse subjects such as nudity or the manner of greeting. For example, in France, nudity is strongly associated with the notion of modesty, whereas being naked is completely normal for a member of a Papuan tribe, who would risk being frowned upon if he were to wear clothes2.
Phenomena observed in social influence
The influence of the majority on the individual is called conformity. It is defined more precisely as a change in behavior or belief resulting from the real or imagined pressure of a majority on an individual or a minority of individuals.
Jacques-Philippe Leyens7 emphasizes that the influential majority can be quantitative or qualitative. The influential majority is quantitative when it is the important number of its members that gives it weight; it is qualitative when it is the level of competence, prestige or authority that legitimately rests in this majority.