Influence and Individual Behavior

Cite this article as:"Influence and Individual Behavior," in The Business Professor, updated July 16, 2020, last accessed October 22, 2020,

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What Is Influence?

Influence can be defined as the ability to have an effect on someone or something or to cause a reaction in someone.

Influence generally results from power, physical closeness, emotional connection, or position of import to the affected person or entity.

What are Individual Responses to Influence?

Responses to influence attempts include:

  • Resistance – This is an unwillingness to comply with the expected or logical effects of the influence.
  • Compliance – This means to react or behave in concert with the expected or logical effect of the influence, but with reluctance or without the desire to do so.
  • Commitment – This is the result of actively seeking or desiring the expected or logical effects of the influence.

What are Notable Methods of Influence?

  • Logic – Cognition or Logic can be used as a rational form of influence and persuasion. It means using facts, data, and logical arguments in presenting a position or point of view.
  • Affect – An affective approach means focusing on our beliefs, emotions, and values.
  • Legitimate Power – Exerting power as part of a person’s position or authority.
  • Coercion – This entails exerting influence through the threat of a negative consequence.
  • Exchange – This means trading value as a means of influencing behavior.
  • Coalition – This means working as a group to exert influence.
  • Personal Appeal – This means influencing others based on leveraging a personal relationship.
  • Consultation – This is when you seek to influence someone by going through a third party for assistance in exerting influence.
  • Ingratiation – This is flattery or influence based upon a person’s ego.

What is the Direction of Influence?

Influence can be exerted in any number of directions, as follows:

  • Upward Influence – This is the ability to influence one’s superiors, such as a boss in an organization.
  • Downward Influence – This is the ability to influence one’s subordinates, such as the workers under a manager.
  • Peer Influence – This is the ability to influence one’s colleagues, friends, or similarly situated individuals.

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