What is Informational Influence In Behavior Change?

Informational influence refers to a type of social influence in which individuals modify their behavior, opinions, or beliefs based on the information they receive from others. This form of influence is grounded in the assumption that others possess valuable knowledge or expertise, and it often occurs in situations characterized by ambiguity, uncertainty, or complexity. Informational influence is an essential concept in social psychology, as it helps explain how individuals form and revise their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in response to social information.

The concept of informational influence emerged in the 1950s, largely due to the work of social psychologist Muzafer Sherif, who conducted a series of experiments on conformity using the autokinetic effect—a visual illusion in which a stationary point of light appears to move in a darkened room. Sherif found that when individuals were uncertain about the movement of the light, they tended to conform to the judgments of others in the group, suggesting that they relied on social information to reduce uncertainty and make more accurate judgments.

Several factors contribute to the strength and impact of informational influence, including:

  1. Ambiguity: Informational influence is more likely to occur in situations where the correct or appropriate response is unclear, as individuals are more inclined to seek guidance from others when they are uncertain.
  2. Expertise: Individuals are more likely to be influenced by others who possess expertise, knowledge, or experience in a particular domain, as they assume that these individuals have access to accurate and reliable information.
  3. Consensus: The degree of agreement among group members can impact informational influence, with greater consensus generally leading to stronger influence. However, it is important to note that consensus does not always guarantee the accuracy of the information.
  4. Credibility: The credibility of the source providing the information also plays a crucial role in informational influence, with more credible sources being more persuasive and influential.

Informational influence has various practical implications, including:

  1. Decision-Making: Understanding the role of informational influence can help individuals make more informed decisions by critically evaluating the sources and content of social information.
  2. Education and Communication: Educators and communicators can leverage informational influence to promote learning and change by providing accurate, credible, and relevant information from reliable sources.
  3. Marketing and Advertising: Businesses can harness informational influence to shape consumer preferences and behaviors by highlighting expert endorsements, product reviews, or customer testimonials.
  4. Public Policy: Policymakers can use informational influence to encourage positive behavior change, such as promoting public health campaigns that highlight expert recommendations or societal norms.

In summary, informational influence is a fundamental aspect of social psychology that explains how individuals adjust their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors based on the information they receive from others. By understanding the dynamics of informational influence, individuals and organizations can make more informed decisions, communicate more effectively, and foster positive social change.

Related Articles

Default Nudges: Fake Behavior Change

Default Nudges: Fake Behavior Change

Read Article →
​Here's Why the Loop is Stupid

Here’s Why the Loop is Stupid

Read Article →
How behavioral science can be used to build the perfect brand

How behavioral science can be used to build the perfect brand

Read Article →
The death of behavioral economics

The Death Of Behavioral Economics

Read Article →