Introduction to Social Influence, Persuasion, Compliance & Propaganda
This portion of the Working Psychology website offers a brief introduction to a big topic: social influence, the modern, scientific study of persuasion, compliance, propaganda, "brainwashing," and the ethics that surround these issues. Although these topics aren't always simple (it is, after all, science), I've done my best to make this introduction interesting. Since Aristotle recorded his principles of persuasion in Rhetoric, humans have attempted to define and refine the principles of successful influence. Persuasion has been studied as an art for most of human history. The comparatively young science of social influence, however, can trace its roots to the second world war, when a social psychologist named Carl Hovland was contracted by the U.S. Armed Forces to bolster the morale of soldiers. Social scientists attempt to support any assertion with facts. Want a few examples of how social influence works in the real world before you continue? Copyright © 2002 by Kelton Rhoads, Ph.D.
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