Social Influence and Identity

Group behavior refers to how people tend to act when they are in small group or even large group settings. People were created by God to be social, to interact with one another. One expression of this is “to join.” People join organizations where they work; they join churches where they worship. They join political parties, fitness clubs, civic and volunteer organizations, and countless others. For example, one of the many reasons human beings are prone to “joining” is that individuals rely on one another for more successful outcomes than they are able to achieve by themselves. Within such groups, however, individual behavior is influenced in ways that psychologists continue to research in an effort to better understand. Phenomena such as groupthink are an expression of social influence. Groups may influence people in positive or negative ways. Effective leaders are well served by understanding how social influence affects the groups they lead.

Upon successful completion of this discussion, you will be able to:

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· Explain how social influence shapes leader and follower behaviors and decision making.

· Identify leader competencies and attributes that are most useful in fostering positive social influence within organizations.


Background Information

To learn more about social identity and leadership, read the article Social Identity and the  Dynamics of Leadership: Leaders and Followers as Collaborative Agents in the Transformation of Social Reality(new tab) .


a. How does your understanding of social influence help explain why leaders and followers make decisions and behave as they do? How does social influence contribute to groupthink?

b. Which leader competencies and attributes do you believe are most useful in fostering positive social influence within organizations, and why?

c. How would characterize your typical behaviors as they relate to social influence? Do you go along to get along? Do you push back against group thinking when it differs from your own? Why or why not?


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