Social Impact Theory attempts to evaluate how individuals can be sources or objects of social influence. Social impact is all influences on people's feelings, thoughts or behaviors. Thus, the theory of social impact is useful for understanding in which social situations a greater influence occurs.
Thus, the social impact will depend on the social forces, which are those that will cause the changes, the immediacy of the event and the amount of sources that produce the impact. The application of social impact varies from the diffusion of responsibility to social laziness, stage fright or persuasive communication.
The value or the share of the value of the relationships is based on costs and rewards. While costs remain points in a relationship, rewards are added. On the one hand, rewards bring pleasure and satisfaction from which people benefit, while costs encompass all the factors that impede driving.
For example, imagine that you are studying for an exam that you spend the next day. Suddenly, a friend calls you and you lose the whole evening talking on the phone. The call will assume a cost because it prevents you from doing an action, namely studying. Therefore, in this case, this relationship would be negative. You have been influenced, which has had a social impact on you.
The social impact theory is explained by three factors. These factors are:
- Strength: It is a network of all the individual factors that make a person influential. It covers individual factors such as height, intelligence and wealth, as well as factors related to the relationships and specificities of the situation, such as belonging to the same group. To repeat the previous example, it would be the relationship with your friend.
- Immediacy: it takes into account the recent occurrence of the event and if there were any factors that occurred. In the example explained, the event was the exam that you had to spend the next day and for which you could not study. The immediacy in this example would be the time you had left until the exam.
- The quantity of sources: it refers to the quantity of sources of influence. In the previous example, the only source of influence was your friend's call.
These three factors give rise to three laws of social impact. The first law is that of the social forces: this law establishes that the social impact is the function of the three factors of the previous part of this article. Increasing each of the three factors would greatly increase the social impact. On the contrary, a zero or very low value would mean that there would be almost no social impact.
The second law is the psychosocial law. According to this law, the greatest social impact occurs when there is only one source. In other words, when there is no source and suddenly there is one. As part of the study, various people remained on the street staring at the sky, speechless. The results showed that the more people who looked at the sky, the more curious they were, and that the change was more and more insignificant as the number of people increased.
The third and final law is the multiplication and division of impact. In accordance with this law, strength, immediacy and the number of objectives play a role in the social impact. In other words, the more force and immediacy are present and the more goals there are in a social situation, the more the social impact will be divided between all the objectives. This law is in the background of phenomena such as the spread of responsibility, which is why people feel less responsible as the number of people present increases.
The rules that guide social impact theory describe people as receivers who passively accept the social impact and do not take into account the social impact that people can actively find. The model is also statistical and does not fully compensate for the dynamics involved in social interactions. It is when one tries to solve these obscure points that the theory of dynamic social impact arises.
According to this theory, social influence is determined by the strength, immediacy and number of sources present, as well as for the previous theory, but here the groups are complex systems that change constantly and are never statistical. . The groups reorganize into four basic schemes: consolidation, grouping, correlation and continuous diversity.These patterns allow group dynamics to work and ideas to spread throughout the group.
- Consolidation: When people interact with each other over time, their actions, attitudes, and opinions become more consistent.
- Grouping: People tend to interact with groups of members with similar opinions.
- Correlation: over time, the opinions of individual group members on a variety of themes converge and relate to each other.
- Continuous Diversity: If members of a minority group communicate with members of the majority but resist their influence, there may be some degree of diversity.
These theories help us understand the influence that other people or groups may have. The social impact of sources affects us on a daily basis, but now we can measure it. We can know which factors will affect us more and, of course, how to avoid the social impact.