Life would be much easier if other people would only do what we wanted, and just get on with it without any negative comment or complaint. Unfortunately this is far from the case, since we continually have to persuade and influence those with whom we come into contact that what we are recommending is the path they should take. Indeed, influence is a central thread in the fabric of social life. We devote a great deal of our interactive time with others to this aspect. To take but one simple example, when we are with friends we smile, laugh, listen to what they are saying, and give them sympathy, encouragement and support. A main reason why we do this is to influence them to maintain their positive relationship with us. In this sense, influence is pervasive. As summarised by Forgas and Williams:1 ‘All forms of human interaction involve mutual influence processes, and these function at a variety of levels.’ In this chapter we shall examine these levels of influence.
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