Influence: when we believe something without hesitation

Influence: when we believe something without hesitation

In the era of communication, we can obtain information continuously. There are countless newspapers on the Internet that we can access to know what happens in the world. We can also listen to the radio or watch TV. In addition, it is not only news, but all kinds of information. How many times have we read an article that states that a fruit cures innumerable diseases? How many friends or family have given for certain information that we knew was false? And how many times have we believed something without contrasting it? Let's see what this influence process depends on.


  • 1 Influence: when we believe something without hesitation
  • 2 How is the influence process carried out?
  • 3 Conclusion

Influence: when we believe something without hesitation

According to recent studies from the University of Michigan led by John Leippe (2017), those who believe external information without hesitation have psychopathic features. In a study with more than 2,500 people, the most remarkable feature of the subjects who believed everything they read on the web, was that of psychopathy. The second feature that scored the most was the dominant personality. These data surprised both researchers and other psychology professionals.

Another team from the English University of Oxford repeated the experiment by entering the information also through television. This team, led by Olivia Turner (2018), found that in addition to presenting psychopathic and obsessive traits, they also scored high in extraversion. However, the most surprising thing is that in the intelligence tests the score of the most credulous was below the average.

How is the influence process carried out?

The above information, no doubt, is surprising. So surprising that it is not real, but if we had only read the previous two paragraphs, we would most likely have believed it. Why? Why do we sometimes believe that information we read or hear without doubting its veracity too much? In social psychology it has been studied since the influence process and there are several points that stand out.


When we consider a source to be reliable, it has more credibility for us.. Credibility depends on two factors: competition and sincerity. Competition refers to whether the reader or recipient considers that the source has adequate knowledge and adequate capacity to provide information. For example, reading a psychology article on a specialized page is not the same as reading it on a portal where the content is not written by professionals.

Sincerity is that the recipient considers that the source intends to tell the truth. Some aspects to take into account about the source, as mentioned by Expósito and Moya (2005), some aspects that give sincerity to the source are "that it is perceived without profit, without persuasive intention, to speak against the audience preferences and, above all, to speak against their own interest. "

Power or authority

The power or authority addresses the fact of the influence that a source can for its ability to control the reward and punishments. For example, when we see the police and reduce the speed with the car so that they do not fine us. However, it does not mean that the "correct" behavior is internalized, that is, the influence is apparent but not internal. Many act only for fear of punishment, but not because they consider their behavior to be harmful.

An investigation carried out by Fiske, Morling and Stevens (1996), revealed that persuasive messages issued by a powerful source, could be analyzed in more detail than messages issued by another source without power. For example, if a professor of medicine presents a theory, it will be taken into account more than if proposed by a first-year student.


In this case, it is a physical attraction, although in the age of the internet one could talk about the aesthetics of the media, such as a web page. The most attractive sources have the advantage of attracting more attention. A politician who is considered attractive can call more attention than another who is considered ungrateful, and therefore, can have more influence. On the other hand, according to implicit theories of personality, we tend to give more credibility to attractive sources. We think that an attractive source is more positive, sincere and honest.


The similarity between the source and the receiver is important for the influence to be greater. If the source owns values, attitudes and beliefs similar to ours, will enjoy our credibility and his influence on us will increase. For example, if a political party with which we feel identified says a message with which we agree, we will let ourselves be influenced more by it. However, if the same message is issued by a political party located at the antipodes of our ideology, we can even criticize it.


If we had only read the first paragraphs of this article, we would have believed that people who tend to believe more what they read have psychopathic and dominant features. In this way, it would have influenced what is thought about this type of people. The influence that these paragraphs would have is due to credibility. As it is a page specialized in psychology, everything that is read here is most likely to be taken as true.


Expósito, F. and Moya, M. (2005). Applying social psychology. Madrid: Pyramid