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law of social impact


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A proposition introduced by the US psychologist Bibb Latané (born 1937) in an article in the journal American Psychologist in 1981, designed to explain social influence effects, including persuasion, conformity, compliance, and obedience. It is usually expressed by the equation T = f(SIN), where T is the magnitude of the impact, f indicates a function, S is the strength of the influence sources (for example, their credibility in the case of attitude change), I is the immediacy of the influence sources (face-to-face communication being the most immediate and the print media the least immediate), and N is the number of influence sources. The analogy of electric lamps shining on a sheet of paper helps to explain the law: the amount of light reaching the paper is a function of the strength (wattage) of the lamps, the immediacy of the lamps (how close they are to the paper), and the number of lamps. The law embodies a multiplicative model, because if S, I, or N is zero, the magnitude of the impact is zero.

Subjects: Psychology.


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