Understanding the Concept of Informational Social Influence: What You Need to Know

Understanding the Concept of Informational Social Influence: What You Need to Know

Have you ever found yourself making a decision solely based on the actions of others? Or, have you ever started following a new trend or fashion because it seemed like everyone else was doing it? If your answer is yes, you have experienced the phenomenon of social influence.

Social influence refers to the way people adapt their behavior, beliefs, or attitudes based on the influence of others. There are two main types of social influence: normative and informational. In this article, we will focus on the latter and discuss what you need to know about informational social influence.

Informational Social Influence Explained

Informational social influence occurs when people conform to the behavior or opinions of others because they believe that these actions or decisions reflect the correct way to behave or think. Unlike normative social influence, where people conform to fit in or avoid rejection, informational social influence occurs when individuals genuinely believe that the information or guidance provided by others is valuable and correct.

For example, let’s say you’re in a meeting, and your boss presents a new idea for a project. You’re not sure if it’s a good idea, but everyone else seems to be in favor of it. You might then start to think that the idea is probably a good one, and you’ll likely support it too. This is an example of informational social influence.

The Factors That Influence Informational Social Influence

A variety of factors can influence how susceptible an individual is to informational social influence. Some of these factors include:

Expertise of the Group

People are more likely to conform to the actions or beliefs of a group if they perceive the group as being knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Uncertainty or Ambiguity

When people feel uncertain or ambiguous about a situation, they become more susceptible to informational social influence as they seek information that will help them understand and navigate the situation.

Group Size

Larger groups create a greater sense of social pressure and perceived expertise, making individuals more likely to conform.

Distortion of Perception

Our perceptions can be distorted in group settings. We might perceive things that are not real or fail to see things that are visible.

Benefits of Informational Social Influence

While it can be challenging to resist the influence of the group, informational social influence can provide several benefits. For instance:

Improved Decision Making

When people are faced with complex or novel decisions, informational social influence can provide valuable perspectives and insights that can enhance the decision-making process.

Cultural and Social Learning

Informational social influence can help us understand and adapt to different cultural and social norms, allowing us to navigate diverse social interactions and reducing the likelihood of social conflict.

Drawbacks of Informational Social Influence

Despite its advantages, informational social influence can also have some drawbacks, such as:


Groupthink occurs when group members prioritize consensus and conformity over critically evaluating information and alternative solutions. This can stifle creativity and lead to poor decision making.

Blind Conformity

Blind conformity occurs when individuals blindly follow the group without thinking critically about the information or its applicability. This can lead to poor decision making, particularly in situations where independent thinking is necessary.


Now that you understand the concept of informational social influence and its implications, you can make a more informed decision about when and how you want to conform to others’ actions or beliefs. Remember that while informational social influence can offer benefits, it is essential to maintain independent thinking and critical evaluation of information to avoid groupthink and blind conformity.

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