Self-regulation and social influence: a limited-resource account of resisting and yielding to persuasion

Loes Janssen

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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    The research presented in this dissertation focuses on the internal process that takes place when people are being confronted with situations of social influence. A situation which is characterized by an influence agent - most likely a compliance professional like a sales representative, marketer, or fundraiser - persuading a target of influence into complying with a request, such as purchasing a product, subscribing to a service, or donating money to a charity organization. Although a predominant part of these requests is unsolicited, and initially received with a sceptical response, influence agents are often stunningly successful in eliciting compliance, and manage to urge their targets to respond in their desired way. An intriguing question to ask, therefore, is what makes people comply with these types of persuasive requests without any overt pressure. What makes it so hard to say “No” when confronted with an (unwanted) influence attempt? And given that knowledge, what determines whether people succeed at resisting persuasion? The research presented in this dissertation approaches these questions from a self-regulation perspective. In a series of experimental (lab and field) studies, it is demonstrated that one key feature of many influence situations is that they wear down people’s self-control resources. Resisting persuasion appears to require active self-regulation, and when resources for self-regulation are low, one’s attempts at resistance are more likely to fail. Hence, people’s success in dealing with (unwanted) persuasion depends for an important part on the availability of resources to actively control the self. In line with this notion, the research in this dissertation also demonstrates that when people anticipate persuasion, they become more efficient in allocating their remaining regulatory energy. When resources for self-regulation are low, people start conserving their remaining self-control resources to be able to resist future persuasion, which proves to be a successful (unconscious) strategy to resist a persuasive appeal. By adopting a self-regulation perspective, this dissertation aims to point out a key mechanism responsible for the effectiveness of many social influence situations, thereby contributing to the understanding of the dynamics behind resisting and yielding to persuasion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Pruyn, A.Th.H., Supervisor
    • Fennis, B.M., Supervisor
    Award date12 Mar 2010
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-2971-6
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2010


    • IR-70248

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