Serving Two Masters – What Kind of Resistance to Influence Allows Maintaining a Positive Image?

Authors

  • Agnieszka Gałkowska
  • Anna Czerniak
  • Szymon Czaplińsk
  • Ryszard Stach

Abstract

Research on social influence proves that an important motive of compliance is the need for a positive evaluation from others. However, there is little knowledge of how people responding to social influence in a resistant way are assessed. This study including 187 people concerns the evaluation of communion and agency of people (protagonists of the story) who, in a situation of unwanted social influence, reacted either with consent or presented one of three types of resistance: reactance, scepticism or inertia. The results showed that the evaluation of the protagonist’s agency was highest when s/he reacted to persuasion with reactance, and lowest for those who behaved compliantly. However, the assessment of the communion of the same behaviours was completely opposite. Such substantial asymmetries between the evaluation of communion and agency of the protagonists reacting in different ways to attempts to influence were noted for each of the types of behaviour except for inertia. In this one case, the evaluation of communion and agency of the protagonist turned out to be almost identical. The results are reflected in terms of self-presentation, politeness theory and the importance of norms in evoking submission to social influence.