Social Influence and Identity Conflict
Juan Manuel Falomir Gabriel Mugny University of Geneva
Juan Antonio Pérez University of Valencia
One of the findings most regularly observed in social psychology is that certain kinds of behavior do not always relate to attitudes. From the point of view of social influence, this observation brings us back to the fact that changes in attitudes and beliefs do not necessarily involve a change in the corresponding behaviors. Indeed, attitude change, of the kind often obtained with influence strategies modeled on learning or information processing, seldom translates into a change in behavior and on this point information campaigns seem to be characterized by a relative lack of effectiveness (cf. Hyman & Sheatsley, 1978; Lewin, 1978; McGuire, 1985; Roberts & Maccoby, 1985). This shortcoming assumes a particular importance when modification of behavior is the primary goal of social influence, especially when the behaviors of concern are health-threatening. One notable example is smoking and the campaigns aimed at eradicating this habit, the focus of this chapter's analysis.
Ever since the first discoveries of a link between tobacco consumption and the likelihood of developing cancer (e.g., Doll & Hill, 1950, 1952), bodies with a responsibility for public health have been putting their efforts behind campaigns to ensure that people, and particularly those who are smokers, become aware of this link and consequently decide not to smoke (e.g., Generalitat Valenciana, Direcció General de Salut Pública, 1995; World Health Organization [WHO], 1988, 1993; see also Roemer, 1993).