You are acting on your own free will, according to your own choices and
beliefs. However those beliefs are based on information
gained from your experiences, and your experiences include many persuasive
external influences. While dominance and stature are explicit forms of
power and control, influence is an implicit, yet
pervasive, form of power.
While dominance exerts power
overtly through fear, and stature
exerts power through hope and
genuine helping, influence exerts its power tacitly by manipulating our own free
- Attaining belief.
- Modifying the behavior of others by establishing or altering their
- Imparting information from a particular point of view.
- Changing another's point of view.
- Shaping opinions and beliefs.
- Disguising power.
Persuasion, education, advertisement, manipulation, indoctrination,
endorsement, recommendation, and suggestion are all forms of imparting
information and influencing beliefs, choices, and behavior.
Influence Alters Behavior
Influence alters behavior through the following chain: Influence is a part of
our experience and is our primary source of information accumulated from
observation, listening, dialogue, education, advertisement, and many other
sources. Information creates or alters our beliefs. Choices are made consistent
with our beliefs and our choices are manifest as behavior. Influence is highly
leveraged. Notice how a subtle influence can progress through this chain and
result in important and consequential actions, often by many people. Influence
attains obedience without requiring submission.
Influence originates and accumulates from many sources, including: observation, listening, dialogue,
suggestion, recommendation, advice, opinion, education, reading, advertisements,
indoctrination, propaganda, censorship, counseling, peer pressure, and habits.
|Hip people drink Pepsi.
||Pepsi is better than coke
||Choose Pepsi over coke
||Buy Pepsi and drink it.
|Sophisticated people smoke.
||Smoking is sophisticated and harmless.
||Choose to Smoke
|Jesus was born to the virgin
Mary, is the son of God, and died on the cross.
||Jesus died for our sins.
||Choose Christianity as your
|Evidence for Global warming is disputed.
||Global warming is a hoax.
||Choose horsepower over
||Buy and drive an SUV.
||Homosexuality is a sinful
||Choose to disrespect homosexuals.
||Vote to limit the rights of
|Germans have blue eyes and
||The Arian race is superior.
||Support the Nazi cause.
||Participate in the Holocaust.
Influence and Free Will
The free will we exercise is actually restricted to the alternatives and
choices we are aware of, which are based on the beliefs we hold, which in turn
are based on the information we have retained from the variety of experiences we
have had. Most of those experiences were influenced by others. So what we may
consider free choice is actually constrained and influenced by the information
we believe to be true. Even apparently objective information gathering
activities such as undirected observation are influential because the
environment you are observing represents only a tiny fraction of the world. In
any observation session you will be seeing some phenomena and not seeing many
others. As a result, your conclusions are inherently based on partial
information, and may not accurately represent the larger system. Influence is
ubiquitous and unavoidable. However, you can become more independent and make
better choices by examining the evidence, consulting
a variety of sources, and considering several of points of view. Because
Information informs our choices and therefore our actions and the course of our
lives, it is important to evaluate information and our
beliefs based on our own careful assessment of the
evidence after considering a broad range of alternatives and viewpoints.
Maintain a healthy skepticism.
Influence and Emotion
Various studies, including those by Robert Zajonc, demonstrate that our
emotions are more easily influenced when we are not aware that the influence is
occurring. This means we are making choices and we don't know why!
- “Emotional entrainment is the heart of influence.” ~ Daniel Goleman.
The Anatomy of Power, by John Kenneth Galbraith
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini
The Power Principle: Influence with Honor, by Blaine Lee
Fear, Sadness, Anger, Joy, Surprise, Disgust, Contempt,
Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Fright, Anxiety, Guilt, Shame, Relief, Hope, Sadness, Depression, Happiness,
Pride, Love, Gratitude, Compassion, Aesthetic Experience,
Joy, Distress, Happy-for, Sorry-for, Resentment, Gloating, Pride, Shame, Admiration, Reproach,
Love, Hate, Hope, Fear, Satisfaction, Relief, Fears-confirmed, Disappointment, Gratification,
Gratitude, Anger, Remorse,
power, dominance, stature, relationships