Social Influence as Socially Distributed Information Processing

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Complexity book series (BRIEFSCOMPLEXITY)


Social influence is arguably the most fundament and pervasive social process. The majority of research on this topic adopts the perspective of the source of influence, investigating how the he or she can overcome the resistance or passivity of the target of influence. In this view, social influence is tantamount to control and often involves strategies and tactics of manipulation. This chapter presents Regulatory Theory of Social Influence (RTSI), which examines social influence from the perspective of the target. RTSI holds that rather than always resisting social influence, the target often plays an active role in controlling the influence process. In particular, the target optimizes decision-making and judgment by delegating information processing to potential sources, thereby conserving his or her cognitive resources and improving the quality of his or her decisions and judgments. The interaction of four factors—trust, coherence, issue importance, and own expertise—determine the target’s choice of sources and the level of abstraction in the information sought from these sources. The chapter briefly discusses each factor and their interactive effects on the choice of sources and the level of information that is sought from them. Beyond maximizing the cognitive efficiency of the target and the quality of his or her outcomes, the processes specified by RTSI enhance the functioning of the social group in which the target embedded. The model also has practical applications in various domains, including the design of rules for interaction among AI agents in techno-social groups.


Attractiveness of the source Attractor Asymmetry between trust and distrust Bi-directional influence Coherence Complex systems Decisions Delegation of information processing Distributed information processing Feedback loops High-level information Importance Judgments Low-level information Opinion dynamics Own expertise Regulatory theory of social influence Source of influence Target of influence Transactive memory Trust 


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© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology Institute for Social StudiesUniversity of WarsawWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  3. 3.The Robert Zajonc Institute for Social StudiesUniversity of WarsawWarsawPoland
  4. 4.The Maria Grzegorzewska UniversityWarsawPoland

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