Social Psychology, a division of Psychology that handles the backgrounds and the social interaction of someone and how it makes impact on the person thus forming the personality or character of the person. In Social Psychology, people would study on certain phenomena that effects the approach, feelings, behavior, and thoughts of a person on a matter. From a series of Social Psychological Phenomena, there are two phenomena that demonstrates beneficial studies towards the Social Psychology public. One of them is the Social Comparison Theory, where people define themselves whilst comparing to others (Festinger, 1957), is an influential that phenomena that shows the power of altering someone in a set out situation. On the other hand, there is the Consistency/ Cognitive Dissonance Principles of Persuasion Theory (Robert B. Cialdini P. , 1984), reflects on how poor people’s ability that are able to comprehend the elements that modify their behavior.
For every unique individual, the self is a very important aspect and as a symbolic construct it means that is unable to be observed or felt through any experiments or researches. It outlines how someone reacts to situations and what defines them making them unique. Humans have always been known to be social animals and commonly like to live in large social groups. They would often categorize themselves in different social groups depending on races, age, gender, traits or others which they feel most comfortable in. Being in a part of a social group, we are hard to not compare with the people around us. There are two types of comparisons, the upward comparison and the downward comparison. Upward comparisons are said by (Buunk, 1997) to be able to have two effects, the main motive is valuable information on how to finish an assignment efficiently is noticeable when someone is able to complete it. The other reason is more complicated, people are able to get enthusiastic to succeeding thus copying their actions when the observed is able to do the mission (Bandura, 1986). On the other hand, the downward comparison would be lenient to the comparer and after comparing they would feel better of themselves.
It is hard to expect that children would also be likely to do such comparisons but through the findings of (Florence Dumas, 2005) showed that even children are prone to compare to children that have better results than them. Using the similar methods as older studies (Blanton, 1999; Huguet, 2001), they were able to find out that although not as obvious compared to the ninth graders, children that were as young as in grade five would still have upwards comparisons amongst their peers. The children were to choose two peers to compete with. Even if they did not have their results before hand, most of them were still able to find their level of competition. The ones that they choose really performed better than them. The results also showed that as the ages of the children increase, they are more likely to compare with their peers that are working better than themselves.
Comparing with other individuals are more normal, even in large social groups, they have the tendency to compare with other groups and would often think that they are the best versions compared to other people that are outside from their group as they would always strictly assess others and make themselves look as good as possible (Dunning D. a., 1992; Beauregard, 1998; Dunning D. K., 2003). After competing with the outer groups, they would often go into a process that is called self enhancement. There are a few types of self-enhancing. The first one is improving themselves with “Basking in reflected glory”, the development of self-esteem through the success from the group one belongs in, while the other one is being distant to something or someone that will affect their reputation. The action is called “Cutting off reflected failure”, avoid being known as the part of the team, or “Self-serving attributional bias”, the tendency of blaming losses to outside factors and wins towards inside factors/ or even recalling accomplishments and forgetting let-downs (Mischel, 1975).
The other phenomenon that would be discussed is the Consistency/ Cognitive Dissonance Principle of Persuasion, which is a very crucial theory which and is used in everyday interactions and in many fields of work especially in sales departments. There is a set of principle called the Cialdini’s Six Principle of Influence (Robert B. Cialdini, 1984). which features Scarcity (the more scarce something is, the bigger the urge to be able to own it), Reciprocation (the commitment of human nature to compensate to something or someone), Commitment and Consistency (to be able to show that we are someone responsible) , Social Proof (following the steps of someone who looks like they know what to do and commonly under circumstances of unsureness), Liking (tendency to be able to buy/ take more if the others treat them the way they like), and also Authority (the power of someone that is directly in charge).
In Commitment and Consistency principle, there are a few sets of techniques that people grasp to manipulate the thinking of others under situations and end up doing what they were not meant to do. The plans took advantage of the situation knowing dearly that intellectual disharmony which is a power for consistence people did not like the fact that they would be seemed as inconsistent.The Foot-In-Door technique is a very good example of persuasion, it persuades someone by giving them a smaller request beforehand and the people will more likely to agree to the second request which would be a bigger request that normally would not be agreed when normally asked. There is also another technique that is the exact opposite of the Foot-In-Door approach, it is named the Door-In-The-Face approach. Someone is given a very exaggerating/ almost unacceptable request after declining the first request, the requester will give a more acceptable request compared to the first one and the requested will be more likely to agree to it (Perloff, 2010; Pascual & Guéguen, 2005). Studies showed that requirements that are not big in difference would not make much of a difference, only in extreme conditions the Door-In-The-Face would be able to carry on (Robert B. Cialdini V. J., 1975). Studies that compare between the Foot-In-Door and Door-In-The-Face approach were not able to find the enormous deviation between both of the approaches made and shows they have the similar rate of controlling the power of the situation and manipulating the someone’s thinking.
Another tactic that is used to manipulate others is the Low-Ball method. This is approached by giving something or a service at a lower price point but later changing it to a higher price tag after the customers agree to buy the product or service. From experiments, it is shown that students have a 24% of getting up at 7 A.M. for a support research but when the Low-Ball technique method is used, which is not telling the students what time the research would start and waited for them to agree and tell them the time after, the percentage of the second group of students agreeing for the research increased to 56% and 95% of them really went to the meeting on that day (Robert B. Cialdini C. J., 1978). It can really be seen that under persuasive circumstances, the students are less likely to backed out from their own promise. A quite similar strategy that is the Bait-and-Switch approach as the name, uses a bait to bait in customers and then switch the products or services by pretending that it is finished and changing to a more expensive product. For both techniques to work, the offer given out needs to be attractive enough.
Deriving out of the discussions from above, the Social Comparison Theory that concludes upwards and downwards comparisons and self-enhancements that appear in early stages of humans shows that under situational influences, an individual’s emotions, behavior, and attitude would be affected and through the Consistency/ Cognitive Dissonance Principle of Persuasion Theory, which talks about the Foot-In-Door, Door-In-The-Face, Low-Ball, and Bait-and-Switch practices reflects that one’s cognition and behavior can be altered under situational stimuli. From both of the theories there are overlapping factors that show situational factors changing the behavior of someone and how the power of the situation could really take effect onto someone. In my opinion, the discussions represents that when there are contextual or situational aspects that are able to influence one’s thinking, humans are most likely to do the unexpected even if they do not mean to.