Joinson, Mckenna, Postmes, and Reips (2009) discuss three main types of social influence: compliance, norm-based influence, and interpersonal influence. Compliance takes place when an individual molds their actions around what is expected of them in a social situation; they act on other peoples’ expectations. Norm-based influence is when an individual makes a change to their behavior in order to fit in with their in-group, and do so of their own volition. Interpersonal influence takes place when and individual sees themselves as distict, and obtains information or perspective from other individuals which they see as useful, influential, or relevant; we may be persuaded by others whom we see as being applicable to our needs or personal validity.
Evidence of these social influences are readily found in online gaming communities. Barnett and Coulson (2010) discuss the formation of organized groups of players (aka guilds) in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and what motivates players to join them. They note that due to the varying roles that must be played in order to accomplish goals within these guilds, players must trade information while still fulfilling their individual purposes. In this way, players exibit interpersonal influence on one another. Other research notes that players are influenced socially in game play, but do not clearly define whether the influence is compliant or norm-based (Cole & Griffiths, 2007).
An example of compliant social influence was uncovered when studying Facebook group use (Park, Kee, & Venezuela, 2009). Students report using Facebook groups because they felt compelled by fellow students and identified doing so as an in-group normative behavior.
Finally, norm-based influence can be found in social martketing (McKenzie-Mohr, 2000). When social marketers present desired behaviors as social normatives, individuals may alter their behaviors of their own choosing to match the desired behavior presented in the campaign. In this way, the individual avoids cognitive dissonance and is able to percieve themselves as complying with the more desirable behavior; that of the in-group as presented by the campaign.
When we understand how social influence affects behaviors and changes, as well as personal identities, we can not only understand changes in individuals but we are better equipped to use these influences to overcome marginalization, develop various skills, and teach others to follow suit.