Implicit theories about influence style: The effects of status and sex

Valerie J Steffen, Alice H Eagly

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This experiment explored people's implicit theories about the effects of influencers' and targets' status and sex on the directness and politeness of influencers' persuasive style. Female and male subjects read a description of either a woman influencing a man or a man influencing a woman. Either the influencer's job title was high in status and the target's was low, the influencer's title was low in status and the target's was high, or neither person had a job title. For each of four request styles that varied in directness and politeness, subjects rated the likelihood that the influencer would (1) use the style; (2) gain compliance by using the style; and (3) be liked by the target after using the style. As predicted, high-status influencers were considered more likely to use direct and impolite styles and less likely to use indirect and polite styles than low status influencers. As a consequence of using direct and impolite styles, high status influencers were thought more likely to gain compliance and liking than low-status influencers. The sex of the influencer and target had little effect on subjects' implicit theories of influence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-205
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
StatePublished - 1985


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