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The Impact of Behavioral Style and Status Characteristics on Social Influence: A Test of Two Competing Theories

Margaret T. Lee and Richard Ofshe
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 44, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 73-82
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033703
Page Count: 10
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The Impact of Behavioral Style and Status Characteristics on Social Influence: A Test of Two Competing Theories
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Abstract

Two theories of social influence during interaction are compared. A cognitive theory (Status Characteristics and Expectation States) contends that dominance and influence in small groups are caused by cognitions about performance expectations activated by the status characteristics of members. An alternative argument (Two-Process Theory) contends that it is the observable demeanor of group members that is the because of dominance and influence. A3 X 3 X 2 factorial design was used to test the separate effects of status knowledge and demeanor on influence. Each of 324 subjects viewed one of 18 different videotapes of a mock jury deliberation in a personal injury case. Three levels of demeanor (deference-demanding, neutral, and deferential) and three levels of occupational status were manipulated. Influence was measured in terms of changes in amount of the damage award subjects chose. Results showed that social influence was dependent solely upon the demeanor variable. Analysis of a post-decision questionnaire showed that subjects distorted perceptions of the performances of high status participants even though they were influenced through demeanor variation.

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